For about thirty years, H. G. Widdowson has been one of the most influential figures in applied linguistics. He has greatly contributed to the development of this emerging discipline, whose present form he has shaped to a very considerable extent. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching und Learning calls him ¿probably the most influential philosopher of the late twentieth century for international ESOL" (674).
In over 150 publications, including about a dozen books, he has consistently championed rigorous thinking and explicit debate in applied linguistics. His extensive oeuvre has been a significant influence on most areas of the field such as discourse analysis, stylistics, English for specific purposes, and communicative language teaching.
Many of the ideas elaborated in these publications can be traced back to his Edinburgh Ph.D. thesis of 1973, which also anticipated much of the subsequent development of discourse analysis and Widdowson's own approach to this area of enquiry. Had it been published in the early 1970s, it would now count as one of the classics of early discourse analysis. As it was, it only became known to a small circle of colleagues, in whose works some of his ideas were taken up in one form or another. In the preface to his most recent book, Text, context, pretext (2004), H. G. Widdowson explicitly mentions that many of the ideas developed there go back to his Ph.D. thesis.
On the occasion of his 70th birthday, this Ph.D. thesis available to download here makes a classic linguistic text accessible to a wider public for the first time and meets a demand frequently expressed by students and scholars alike. It is hoped that this edition will make more widely known just how far advanced H. G. Widdowson¿s early thinking was on many of the topics developed in his later work.