The Sustainability Agenda

Hosted ByFergal Byrne

Exploring today's sustainability questions with leading experts.

Episode 108: Interview with Arran Stibbe, Professor of Ecological Linguistics

Episode 108: Interview with Arran Stibbe, Professor of Ecological Linguistics

In this interview with Dr. Arran Stibbe, we discuss ecolinguistics, or how language influences the way we treat the environment. 

Through a number of examples, he explains the great power of words to construct the concepts and values of our world. Stories influence how we think and talk and act. For instance the set of concepts in neoliberalism tell a story about the economy and impact how we view and value growth. This view is entrenched in our culture and therefore our language.
Fortunately, Ecolinguistics exists to give people awareness and be able to change the stories that our society is based on. The stories and languages that are widespread are not the only way to think about things.
One concept which can help in this reframing is to recognize one’s personal ecosophy or ecological philosophy. An ecosophy is a framework by which people judge stories against. It’s critical to think about what’s important and not simply accept prevailing stories of the time. It can evolve and change over time, and we should continue to give thought to the stories we choose to live by.

Dr. Arran Stibbe is Professor of Ecological Linguistics at University of Gloucestershire. He has a PhD in Linguistics and MSc in Human Ecology and combines the two fields in his research and teaching which examines how our language and stories shape how we see ourselves and our relationship with other animals and the earth. He is the founder and convenor of The Ecolinguistics Association and has published several books on the topic of Ecolinguistics, including Ecolinguistics: Language, Ecology and the Stories We Live By, second edition releasing soon.