Photo of Jaffer Sheyholislami

Jaffer Sheyholislami

Professor (Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies; Cross-appointed in Linguistics and ICSLAC-Cultural Mediation); Graduate Supervisor ALDS

Degrees:PhD (Carleton)


My research, supervision and teaching evolve around two main areas of applied linguistics and discourse studies: critical discourse studies (CDS: media discourse, online discourse, political discourse, and representations of language, identities, genders, nationalism, ethnicity, and minoritized groups) and  sociolinguistics (e.g., language variation, language and identity, gender, and other social variables, language attitudes and ideologies, language policy and planning, language/linguistic rights, language maintenance and vitality, heritage languages, etc.).

After years of radio broadcasting in Iran, I completed my first Canadian degree at Fanshawe College, London, Ontario, in Library and Information Science, in 1993. After completing my B.A. in general linguistics—concurrent with a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language—I taught English to newcomers in Ottawa for several years. In the meantime, I devoted my MA research to a Systemic Functional Linguistics-informed Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of North American news discourse around international events. I continued to employ CDS/CDA in my PhD research, focusing on identity formation practices of Kurdish new media (specifically satellite TV and the Internet). The results of this and other related research projects have been published in a monograph, Kurdish Identity, Discourse and New Media, Palgrave Macmillan (2011), in addition to peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes published in North America, Europe, and the Middle   East.

While I have continued to conduct research, supervise, and teach in the area of Critical Discourse Studies, in the past several years I have immersed myself in sociolinguistics, especially in relation to Kurdish, an area in which I was interested long before I entered academia. I am especially interested in language policy and planning, language and identity, mother-tongue education, linguistic landscape, and language ideologies. My works in these areas have appeared in over a dozen refereed journals, peer- reviewed edited collections, and major encyclopaedia and handbooks. It is because of these diverse interests that I have been privileged to carry out graduate supervision in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Iraq. In 2012, I was nominated for the Capital Educator’s Award and in 2016, I was awarded the Faculty Graduate Mentoring Award at Carleton.

Research Interests

  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Language policy and planning
  • Language and identity
  • Heritage Languages
  • Kurdish language and linguistics


Current course information for this faculty member can be found by searching the Carleton Central/Public Schedule by Term and Name.

Courses previously taught

Undergraduate courses:

  • ALDS 1001: Introduction to Applied Linguistics & Discourse  Studies
  • ALDS 1001: (online version):  Language Matters:  An Introduction to  ALDS
  • ALDS 2202: Analysis of Written Language Use
  • ALDS 2705: Language, Ideology and Power
  • LING 3702: Sociolinguistics
  • ALDS 3202: Sociolinguistics (previously, ALDS 2701, Language in Society)
  • ALDS 3205: English as a Global Language
  • ALDS 3401/ENGL 3908: Research and Theory in Academic  Writing
  • ALDS 4709: Systemic Functional  Linguistics

Graduate courses:

  • ALDS 5001: Directions in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies
  • ALDS 5002: Inquiry Strategies in Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies
  • ALDS 5102: Systemic Functional Linguistics
  • ALDS 5407: Language Policy and Planning
  • ALDS 5408: Critical Discourse Analysis
  • ALDS 5607: Research and Theory in Academic Writing
  • ALDS 5902: Tutorial in ALDS
  • ALDS 5904: Special Topics in Written Discourse/Literacies

Selected Recent Publications

  • Books

Sheyholislami, J., Haig, G., Khezri, H., Akin, S., & Opengin, E. (Eds.) (in preparation). Oxford handbook of Kurdish linguistics. Oxford University Press.

Sheyholislami, J. (2011). Kurdish Identity, Discourse, and New Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cover of "Kurdish Identity, Discourse, and New Media"
  • Reprint, paperback edition, 2015
  • Reviewed in Journal of Language and Politics (2019), Critical Discourse Studies (2013), Middle Eastern Studies Journal (2012), and Global Media Journal-Canadian Edition (2011)


  • Chapters in edited books       

Sheyholislami, J., & Vessey, R. (In print). Language policy and discourse in the public sphere: The discursive construction of language and multilingualism as policy objects. In M. Gazzola, F. Grin, L. Cardinal, & K. Heugh (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of language policy and planning. Routledge.

Sheyholislami, J. (2023). Linguistic human rights in Kurdistan. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & R. Phillipson (Eds.), Handbook of linguistic human rights (pp. 357-372). Wiley-Blackwell.

Sheyholislami, J., & Surkhi, R. (2022). Lexical variation across Kurdish. In Y. Matras, G. Haig, and E. Opengin (Eds.), Structural and typological variation in the dialects of Kurdish (pp. 13-63). Palgrave MacMillan.

Sheyholislami, J. (2021). History and development of literary Central Kurdish. In H. Bozarslan, C. Gunes, & V.  Yadirgi  (Eds.), The Cambridge History of the Kurds (pp. 633-662).  Cambridge University Press.

Anonby, E., Mohammadirad, M., & Sheyholislami, J. (2019). Kordestan Province in the Atlas of the Languages of Iran: Research process, language distribution, and language classification. In E. Gündoğdu, E. Öpengin, G. Haig, & Anonby, E. (Eds.), Advances in Kurdish linguistics (pp. 2-30). Bamberg, Germany: Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg.   (peer-reviewed)

Sheyholislami, J. (2018). [The Kurdish] Language. In Sebastian Maisel (Ed.), The Kurds: An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society (pp. 141-162). ABC-CLIO Greenwood. [8,000 words].

Sheyholislami, J. (2018). “Same language,” different borders, and different policies:  Kurdish in four countries. In   Jańczak, Barbara Alicja (Ed.), Language contact and language policies across borders: Construction and deconstruction of transnational and transcultural spaces (pp. 31-44). Germany: Logos Publishing  House. (peer-reviewed)

Sheyholislami, J. (2017). Language status and party politics in Kurdistan-Iraq: The case of Badini and Hawrami varieties. In Zeynep Arslan (Ed.), Zazaki—yesterday, today and tomorrow: Survival and standardization of a threatened language   (pp. 55-76).  Graz, Austria: Wien Kultur. (This paper has also been translated into Turkish:  Sheyholislami, J. (2017). Iraq Kürdistanɪ’nda Dil Statüsü ve Parti Politikalarɪ: Badini ve Hewrami Deǧişkelerinin Durumu. Arslan, Zeynep (Ed.), Zazaca – Dunu, Bugunu ve Yarini. Graz, Austria: Wien Kultur)

Sheyholislami, J. (2016). Afterword. In A. Kalan (Ed.), Who is afraid of multilingual education? Conversations with Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Jim Cummins, Ajit Mohanty and Stephen Bahry about the Iranian Context and Beyond (pp. 148-154). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Sheyholislami, J. (2015). Language varieties of the Kurds. In W. Taucher, M. Vogl, & P. Webinger (Eds.), The Kurds: History, religion, language, politics (pp. 30-51).  Vienna, Austria: Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Sheyholislami, J. (2015). Identity, language, and new media: The Kurdish case. In H. K. Holmes (Ed.), Language and the Media: Critical Concepts in Linguistics, Vol. 1, Chapter 11. London: Routledge.

Sheyholislami, J. (2012). Language policy and planning: Identity and rights in Iraqi Kurdistan. In G. Kunsang, A. Snavely and T. Shakya (Eds.), Minority language in today’s global society, Vol. 2 (pp. 106-128).     New York, NY: Trace Foundation. (Translated into Tibetan in the same volume).

Sheyholislami, J. (2012). Linguistic Minorities on the Internet. In Kirk St. Amant & Kelsey Sigrid (Eds.), Computer-Mediated Communication across Cultures: International Interactions in Online Environments (pp. 235-250). IGI Global   publication. (peer-reviewed, and translated into Kurdish)

  • Articles in refereed journals

Vessey, R. & Sheyholislami, J. (2020). Language ideological debates about linguistic landscapes: The case of Chinese signage in Richmond, Canada. Journal of Language and Politics, 19(5), 786-808.

Sheyholislami, J. (2019). Language as a problem: Language policy and language rights in Kurdistan-Iran. Etudes Kurdes, December 2019, 99-134.

Sheyholislami, J., & Sharifi, A. (2016). ‘It is the hardest to keep”: Kurdish as a heritage language in the United States. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 237, 75-98.

Hall, C., & Sheyholislami, J. (2013). Using appraisal theory to understand rater values: An examination of rater comments on ESL test essays. Journal of Writing Assessment, (6)1.   

Sheyholislami, J. (2012). Kurdish in Iran: A case of restricted and controlled tolerance. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 217, 19-47. (special issue on Kurdish edited with Amir Hassanpour and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas) 

  • Editorial Responsibilities
Cover of journal  Sheyholislami, J., Hassanpour, Amir., & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. (Eds). (2012). The Kurdish Linguistic Landscape: Vitality, Linguicide and Resistance. Special issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 212(217). [194 pages]


  • Encyclopedia or dictionary entries

Sheyholislami, J. (in-print). The Kurdish media culture. Encyclopedia Iranica. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers. [3,000 words]

Sheyholislami, J. (2011). Kurdistan. In George Barnett & Geoffrey J. Golson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Networks, (Vol. 1, pp. 473-4). London: Sage Publications.

Invited, keynote and plenary Talks (Selected)

Sheyholislami, J. (June 18-20 2020). Language ideological debate in Iran. Invited keynote at the Centre for Kurdish Studies conference, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK. (postponed due to COVID-19).

Sheyholislami, J. (2 November 2019). Kurdish in Iran: A policy of ‘safety valve’. Plenary talk at the 4th International Conference of Kurdish Studies, Zakho University, and Koya University, Kurdistan-Iraq.

Sheyholislami, J. (29 October 2019). The Kurdish language and national identity: Achievements and challenges. Invited keynote at the International Conference the National Identity of the Kurds in a New World Order. University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan- Iraq.

Sheyholislami, J. (10 May 2019). Language regimes and policies towards Kurdish in Iran and Iraq: Different management of the same language. Invited talk at the Language regimes in theory and practice workshop. University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.

Sheyholislami, J. (12 October 2018). Language policy and language rights in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhellat). Plenary talk at the Justice linguistique et langues minoritaires: Le cas du kurde/Linguistic Justice and Language Minorities: The Case of the Kurds, Paris, France. Organized by The University of Paris II, the University of Rouen, and the Kurdish Institute of   Paris.

Sheyholislami, J. (05 November 2018). Language policy in Iran: A critical evaluation. Keynote at the Yarshater Speaker Series, Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.

Sheyholislami, J. (29 June 2017). Different Policies for the Same Language: Kurdish in Five States. Invited talk at Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK.

Sheyholislami, J. (21 May 2017). Zimanî Înglîzî le herêmî Kurdistan: Berjewend yan hereṣe bo zimanî dayik (The English language in Kurdistan Regional Government-Iraq: Beneficial or a threat to the mother tongue).” Invited talk at the Konfiransî Zimanî Dayik (Mother Tongue Conference). Soran University, Soran, Erbil province, Iraq.

Sheyholislami, J. (03, May 2017). English as a global language: An opportunity or a threat. Invited talk at the Faculty of Humanities, Salahaddin University, KRG, Erbil, Iraq.

Sheyholislami, J. (11 May 2013). Language policy and planning in Iraqi Kurdistan. Keynote at the Annual Kurdish Teachers Conference of Sweden, Västerås, Sweden.

Selected Conference Presentations

Sheyholislami, J. (20-22 August, 2020). “English as medium of education in Kurdistan: The impact of agenda-setting on public policy.” Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Planning and Policy Conference. McGill University, Montreal, Canada. (postponed due to COVID-19)

Sheyholislami, J. & L. Armstrong (1-2 September, 2019). “Innocent minds, serious messages: Exploring ideologies in elementary school textbooks.” 4th International Conference of Kurdish Linguistics, University of Rouen, Rouen, Normandy, France.

Sheyholislami, J. (24-26 August, 2017). Same language, different policies: Kurdish in five countries. Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning Conference, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Sheyholislami, J., & Vessey, R. (24-26 August, 2017). Linguistic landscapes, language policy, and corpus-assisted discourse  studies: A case study of Chinese signage in Richmond, British Columbia. Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning Conference, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Sabbethemmatabadi, P., & Anonby, E., Sheyholislami, J. (26-28 June, 2017). A comparative analysis of language classification taxonomies in Kurdish, Abade’i and Tehrani language communities. Kurdish Futures in and Outside of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and  Iran: Fresh Hopes for New Tragedies? Exeter, UK.

Sheyholislami, J., & Rahamai, D. (26-28 June, 2017). Personal names as emblems of group identity and traces of socio-political change among the Kurds of Iran. Kurdish Futures in and Outside of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran: Fresh Hopes for New Tragedies? Exeter, UK.

Sheyholislami, J., & Weisi, H. (26-28 June, 2017). Misconceptions about bilingualism and the endangerment of the first language. conference, Kurdish Futures in and Outside of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran: Fresh Hopes for New Tragedies? Exeter,   UK.

Anonby, E., Sheyholislami, J., & Mohammadirad, M. (25-26 August, 2016). Kordestan Province in the Atlas of the Languages of Iran. 3rd International Conference on Kurdish Linguistics, University of Amsterdam. The Netherlands.

Sheyholislami, J. (23-28 June, 2016). Language regimes and state traditions in five countries: Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.  IPSA World Congress, Poznan, Poland.

Sheyholislami, J. (12 December, 2015). Linguistic landscape and competing language ideologies in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Zazaki – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. About Survival, Adaptation and Standardization of a Threatened Language.   Vienna, Austria.

Kartchava, E., Hartwick, P., Sheyholislami, J., Kozlova, I., Polovina-Vukovic, D., & Davies, K. (16-19 June, 2015). Designing and Teaching our first fully online undergraduate course as a team: Successes and challenges STLHE Annual Conference (Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education), Vancouver, BC,  Canada.

Ioannidou, A., Sheyholislami, J., & Rasheed, R. (27 January, 2015). Language choice in education in the KRG: A linguistic or a political decision? On the Outside Looking In: A Kurdish Studies Conference, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA.

Sheyholislami, J. (3-5 September, 2014). Language Policy and Planning and Competing Language Ideologies in Iraqi Kurdistan, the 2014 Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning Conference, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.



  • Completed

Saad A. Ghazi (2020). Language Policy and Planning in the Education System of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Salahaddin University, Erbil, Iraq (Co-supervised with Prof. Dr. Rafiq Shwani)

Christopher Smith (2020). A Triangulated Accounting of Top Notch 2: Negotiating ideologies in the
Multimodal Discourse of an EFL Textbook in Korean university classrooms.

Lama Altoaimy (2017). Driving change, 140 characters @ a time: A corpus assisted discourse analysis of the Twitter debates on the Saudi ban on women driving.

  • In progress

Lisa Armstrong (in progress) ‘Harassment is in the eye of the beholder’? The discursive construction of sexual harassment in policy.

Codie Fortin Lalonde (in progress). The discursive construction of education in Canada.

Parisa Sabethemmatabadi (in progress). Language identification in Iran: An analysis of folk perception (Co-supervised with Prof. Dr. Erik Anonby, and Dr. Trudy O’Brian)

Nasim Omidian Sinjani (in progress). Discursive media representations of Syria newcomers (Co-supervised by Dr. Guillaume Gentil)

Chareena Quirante (in progress). Binalay Mi (Our Home): Yogad Language Maintenance in Canada (Co-supervised with Prof. Dr. Marie-Odile Junker)

Ayman Farah (in progress). The Discursive Construction of National Identity and Gender in ELT textbooks of UAE. (Co-supervised with Dr. Graham Smart)

MA Thesis Supervision

  • Completed

Laura Barfoot (2018). ‘Make no Mistake, that Was a Terrorist Act’: Discursive Construction of Terrorism in Canada. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Chareena Quirante (2018). The Future of Yogad: An Appreciative Inquiry on Mother Tongue-Based, Multilingual Education Classroom Practices in Isabela. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Dr. Marie-Odile Junker)

Marwan Sheikho (2018). The development course of Kurmanji Kurdish language in Syria and Turkey: Discourse of Identity from Oral to Written Language and from Print to Current Time. University of Siegen, Germany (Co-supervised with Dr. Karin Schittenhelm)

Lisa Armstrong (2016). ‘Behind the Bar, It’s Different’: Discourse and Social Practice in Bars. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Dr. Graham Smart)

Codie Fortin Lalonde (2016). Producing “Good” Citizens: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Publication, ‘Achieving excellence’. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Dr. Janna Fox)

Alicia Massie (2016). Legitimation in Corporate Discourse: The Case of Enbridge and the Northern Gateway Pipeline. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co- supervised with Dr. Graham Smart)

Alessandro Marcon (2015, with distinction). The discursive enactment of Edward Snowden. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Dr. Graham Smart)

Andrea Noriega (2012). Health and Beauty in Advertising: A Critical Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Three Television Commercials. SLaLS, Carleton U. 

Ronald Shutler (2012).  A Study of Student and Teacher Perceptions of Criterion, an Online Writing Program. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Claire Owen (2011, with distinction). Language and Cultural Identity: Perceptions of the Role of Language in the Construction of Aboriginal Identities. SLaLS, Carleton U.

  • In progress

Christine Grondin-Mora (in progress) Music and maintenance of Spanish as a heritage language. SLaLS, Carleton U.  (Co-supervised with Dr. Anna Hoefnagels)

Shayna Lewis (in progress). Language and Film Rating. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Dr. Tracy Hodgson-Drysdale)

Ashleigh Feltmate (in progress). A Tale of Two Opposing Hashtags. SLaLS, Carleton U.  (Co-supervised with Dr. Rachelle Vessey)

Nana Agyei (in progress). Code-switching among Akan-English Bilingual Speakers in Ottawa. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Erik Anonby)

MA Research Essays

  • Completed

Kathleen Day (2018). Good Fences Do Make good Neighbours: A Preliminary Investigation into New Brunswick’s Language Policy and Practices. (Co-supervised with Dr. Kristin Snoddon)

Maria Kamenets (2018). Cochlear Implants and Sign Language: Uses and Implications. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Dr. Kristin Snoddon)

Melisa Kaya (2018). Language Planning and Policy: A Comparative Study of Language Policy in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Judith Locket (2018). The Language of Sexual Assault in Canadian Courts. Winner of the Directors Award for Outstanding Research Essay. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Regina Fupi (2011). Examining Inanimate Subject with Active Verbs in Applied Linguistics. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Janice McGrath (2010). Social construction of risk: A critical discourse analysis of the discursive construction of H1N1 risk in The Toronto Star and The Ottawa Citizen. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Anna Podvornaia (2010, with Distinction). Discursive Strategies of the ‘War on Terrorism’ Rhetoric: Comparative Critical Discourse Analysis of the ‘Call to Arms’ Rhetoric of Bush Administration and Al-Qaeda. SLaLS, Carleton U.  (Co-supervised with Dr. Jez Littlewood)

Matthew Cochrane (2009). Logos Versus Pathos? A Contrastive Rhetorical Analysis of the Call to Arms Genre. SLaLS, Carleton U. Winner of the Director’s Award for Outstanding Research Essay.

Undergraduate Supervision

Kathryn Carreau (2017). Music as a Priming Condition for L2 Phonological Awareness. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Lev Blumenfeld)

Katrina Picken (2016). Contextual Considerations of Public Address: Multimodal Register Analysis of British and Soviet Recruitment Posters from WWII. SLaLS, Carleton U.

Abby Lucas (2014). The use of English in France: Intervention, Practices and Beliefs. SLaLS, Carleton U. (Co-supervised with Guillaume Gentil)