Publication details [#58232]

Englert, Christina K. and Agnes M. Engbersen. 2013. Age and language use. In Östman, Jan-Ola and Jef Verschueren, eds. Handbook of Pragmatics. 2013 Installment. (Handbook of Pragmatics 17). John Benjamins. pp. 1–34.
Publication type
Article in book
Publication language


This article surveys studies in language use in talk-in-interaction where elderly people are involved, and in which age is regarded as a dynamic concept, constructed by conversational participants in real time interactions via language use. This view will be defined as the pragmatic perspective. First, some brief background is provided on age as an independent variable, as the principal approach in early research on the elderly and language use; then the patronizing phenomenon and its interpretation by Accommodation Theory is presented. From a pragmatic perspective some early sociolinguistic discourse-analytic studies on strategies for handling age in inter- and intra-generational talk are addressed and attention is paid to the elderly’s various communicative networks. Then conversation analytic (CA) research of identity in interactions with the elderly is summarized and finally some issues in the field of (institutional) care for older people are assessed.