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date: 15 May 2021

(p. xi) Preface to the Second Edition

(p. xi) Preface to the Second Edition

Every academic discipline must, from time to time, reflect on its origins, its history, and its conflicts in order to understand its identity and its objectives. It appears, however, that the field of applied linguistics has entered a phase that might be called the “second coming of the Encyclopedists.” The original Encyclopedists were the participants in the creation of ĽEncyclopédie, produced between 1751 and 1776, directed by Denis Diderot (1713–1784) and Jean Le Rond D'Alembert (1717–1783), in 35 volumes, with essays that were said to be marked by love of truth and contempt for superstition, embodying the philosophical spirit of the eighteenth century and attempting to give a rational explanation of the universe—a notion that may have seemed perfectly plausible in the middle of the eighteenth century but that must appear, from the vantage point of the early twenty-first century, as somewhat arrogant—even the title (simply “The Encyclopedia,” as if there were no other) is a bit over the top. (The relation between the two eras is more fully developed in Kaplan, 2009b.)

The task implied in the first sentence of this preface is actually quite impossible because applied linguistics is “a diverse discipline with many scholarly areas incorporated into the mainstream” (Gass and Makoni, 2004: 1). This second edition of The Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistic, like its predecessor, aims to acquaint the reader with a range of perspectives that will allow the reader to understand how researchers across this wide-ranging field approach various issues that attempt to solve real-world problems in some way implicating language. This volume is not intended to represent all areas of applied linguistics, nor is it intended to cover the entire global geography, nor is it intended to review work relevant to all the world's languages.

The organizing principles that underlie the first edition were summarized in the preface to that volume. In terms of organization, little has changed. The distribution of scholars by country of residence and by gender for this edition is shown in table II.

The emphasis in this revision is (1) adding chapters intended to introduce some areas that have rapidly entered the field and were not represented in the prior volume and (2) deleting others in which there has been limited activity during the intervening years. For the existing chapters, authors were asked to update their reference lists and to add representative new citations; in addition, they were asked to update their texts to show important new developments over the years since the publication of the first edition and (briefly) to indicate where they think the area may now be moving. (p. xii)

Table II. Distribution of Contributors

By Country

By Gender


05 (12%)


22 (51%)


01 (02.3%)


21 (49%)


04 (09%)


43 (100%)


02 (05%)


01 (02.3%)


01 (02.3%)

United Kingdom

03 (07%)

United States

26 (60%)


43 (99.9%)

In addition, the organization of the volume has been modified to show more clearly the implicit three-part structure—Where did applied linguistics come from? Where has applied linguistics arrived? Where does applied linguistics seem to be going? The chapter titled “Whence Applied Linguistics: The Twentieth Century” represents one major addition designed to support this structure. The remaining chapters of the volume (except the last, titled “Where to from Here?”) indicate where applied linguistics has arrived. The last chapter tries to gather the several views of the future and to suggest what that future may involve. This is a most dangerous undertaking, because predictions often serve more to embarrass the futurist than to predict what will happen with any degree of accuracy.

Robert B. Kaplan

Port Angeles, Washington

June 2009