Language performance continually acquires interpretations relating to power and status within a social context. The need to conform to established practices is rarely challenged directly. This paper examines a number of practical instances where aspects of language performance conflict with conventions of established discourse communities. The resulting uncomfortable compromises are analysed in terms of the natural and pragmatic strategies which are likely to operate. A number of processes eventuate in such situations and it is hypothesised that harnessing them may lead to more pedagogically effective practice. However, the development of such practice depends on a firm awareness of the types of linguistic current that run through largely unquestioned established contexts. This paper will initially examine three vignettes involving language conflict of various types, before proposing a model to try to illustrate the general process that occurs in such situations. The model will then be tested in terms of a fourth scenario to illustrate that contexts that may seemingly be well established may be less powerful than they appear. Many institutions espouse stylistic tolerance, that is, equity of esteem for language variation (Dawkins 1991). However, the reality of both wider and specialist community expectations remains and there is thus likely to be a divergence between principle and practice.
International Journal of Learning Vol. 9, p. 639-651