On the conditions of authority in academic publics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The discourse of some of the most powerful public figures in today’s world is often incoherent and nonsensical. Incoherent yet authoritative discourse shows that authority does not rest in language but results from non-linguistic and pre-textual conditions. The non-linguistic and pre-textual conditions are exemplified in an Australian case-study of a media debate between the Immigration Minister and a refugee, drawing on research by Smith-Khan (2019a, b). Two such conditions are then examined with reference to academic publics. First, I ask which languages do or do not carry authority, before moving on to speaker identity as a condition of authority. The close association between English and academic excellence has resulted in diminishing the authority of academic publications in languages other than English. The same is true of publications by women and people of color. I close by reflecting on referencing practices as forms of extending authoritativeness to voices in excluded languages and from excluded scholars in academic publics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019



  • academic communication
  • authority
  • English as a global language
  • gender
  • inequality
  • public communication
  • race

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