Sociolinguist Peter Torres PhD


My applied sociolinguistics research seeks to expand our understanding of how language shapes everyday discussions surrounding health issues through quantitative and qualitative analysis of oral and written discourses.

My work draws on prosodic and corpus-based discourse analysis to investigate how communities linguistically address health crises from both top-down (policy analysis) and bottom-up (interaction analysis) perspectives.

My other research interests include language variation, language and gender, language socialization, language documentation, and Filipino.

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Interaction Analysis

I study interactions to understand how stakeholders interpret or make sense of policies at a local level. Such analysis employs both speech/prosodic analysis (how we say or sign things) and the motivations behind such choices (why) given the circumstances.

Language Policy

My approach to language policy research expands on the traditional examination of "policies about language usage" to include the analysis of the "language of policies," shedding light on how language influences local implementation.

Opioid Crisis

My current work unpacks the language of pain in the context of the American opioid crisis to uncover the language policymakers use in fighting the crisis and how physicians and patients discursively negotiate, reinterpret, and enact such policies in consultations.

Healthcare Inequities

I also study the influence of race, gender, privilege, and cultural perceptions of pain on physicians’ opioid prescribing practices, providing insight into how linguistic choices and biases may contribute to structural and institutional inequities.


ASU Library keeps a collection of his work here.

Experts.ASU website

Torres, P.J., (2023). Face-saving strategies and the burden of opioid policy enactments: When physicians’ compliance makes patients non-compliant. Journal of Pragmatics 205, 122–136

Torres, P.J., (2022). Modality and interpretive spaces in policies. In B.A. Diaz & R.W. Schrauf (Eds). Applying linguistics in health research, education, and policy: Bench to bedside and back again. 141-168. Links: De Gruyter Mouton. 

Torres, P. J., (2022). The Nation’s Fix: The Language of the Opioid Crisis (Order No. 29212652). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of California; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. (2708236876). Links: Proquest

Torres, P.J., (2021). The role of modals in policies: The US opioid crisis as a case study. Applied Corpus Linguistics. Links:Elsevier | Kudos

Torres, P. J., Henry, S. G., & Ramanathan, V. (2020). Let’s talk about pain and opioids: Low pitch and creak in medical consultations. Discourse Studies 22(2). 174-204. Links: Sage Publication Kudos PubMed | ePuB Download link

Henry S.G., White A.E., Magnan E.M., Hood-Medland E.A., Gosdin M., Kravitz R.L., Torres P.J., & Gerwing J. (2020) Making the most of video recorded clinical encounters: Optimizing impact and productivity through interdisciplinary teamwork. Patient Education and Counseling. 103(10). 2178-2184. Links: ScienceDirect 

Torres, P. J., (2015) “Iráhü táu ában funátu kápa” (“The Boy with a Red Cape”), The International Journal of Garifuna Creative Writing 3(1).


Jan 5-8
Denver, CO
Discourse analytic approaches in bridging policies with local implementations

Discourse and Public Policy Organized Session

97th LSA Annual Meeting

Jan 6-9, 2022
📍Washington DC
“Creak and low pitch as prosodic features for misery and pain”

Conference Presentation
2022 Linguistic Society of America (LSA) Annual Meeting

🧷 Elizabeth Dayton Award in Sociolinguistics

June 4, 2021
📍Virtual Conference
"Webinar: Publishing in the Language and Public Policy Section of Language”

Linguistic Society of America (LSA)

March 20-23, 2021
📍Virtual Conference
“Analyzing modality in policy text: How California policies respond to the opioid crisis”

Conference Presentation
2021 American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Annual Meeting

March 3, 2021
📍Virtual Conference
“The language of opioid policies”

Short Presentation/ Lightning Talk
2020/2021 Advancing Pain Relief Symposium

January 7-10, 2021
📍Virtual Conference
"‘Under the influence’ of opioid policies: configuring interpretive spaces through language"

Conference/Panel Presentation
2021 Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting

Dec 5, 2020
📍 Twitter
(Virtual Conference)
“One too many plural(s): Taglish code-switching”

2020 Brazilian Association of Linguistics' Linguistweets (First International Twitter Conference on Linguistics)


April 7, 2020
📍Davis, California
"We can, we should, we must, and we will fight the opioid crisis”
UC Davis Gradslam Finalists
July 17, 2019
📍Davis, California
"If I may, shall we address pain or should we focus on addiction: A talk about the language of opioid policies."
Peter's LSA Three Minute Thesis

2019 Linguistic Society of America's 3MT (Three-Minute Thesis Competition)

 🧷 Runner Up

July 14, 2019
📍Davis, California
"Enacting opioid policies in text and speech: A multi-'modal' type of fix"
Peter's LSA Poster Academic Poster Example

Conference Poster
2019 LSA Linguistic Institute

June 26, 2019
📍Davis, California
“Modality in policy text: How California addressed the opioid crisis"
LSA Public Policy Panel.jpg

2019 Linguistic Society of America Institute

🧷 Workshop: Local in Language Policy

May 24, 2019
📍Davis, California
"When heroin was a hero and solutions created problems: The discourse of opioid policy enactments"

Conference Presentation
6th Annual UC Davis Symposium on Language Research

November 14-18, 2018
📍San Jose Convention Center
(Remote Participation)
"Immigrant speech in healthcare: Ideologies and intelligibility"

Conference Presentation
2018 American Anthropological Association Annual (AAA) Meeting

May 25, 2018
📍University of California, Davis
"'On a Scale of 1 to 10, How much pain are you in?' Conversations on chronic pain and controlled substances"

5th Annual UC Davis Symposium on Language Research: Most Innovative Panel

🧷 Runner Up

April 6, 2018
📍University of California, Los Angeles
"Register shift as a pragmatic resource: Manifesting pain in medical consultations"

Conference Presentation
24th Annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture (CLIC)

March 10, 2018
📍Georgetown University
"Discussing opiates in medical consultations: Expressing pain, mitigated questions, implicit requests and formulating credibility"
Peter Torres GURT-Poster

Conference Poster
Georgetown University Roundtable on Languages and Linguistics (GURT): Approaches to Discourse

February 8, 2018
📍Davis, California
"Low pitch and creaky voice as linguistic resources: Describing pain, narrating symptoms, and requesting for opiates in medical interactions"

UC Davis Gradslam

April 22-23, 2016
📍University of California, Los Angeles
"Memory loss is not identity loss: The complex language participation frameworks of the elderly with dementia"
Peter CLIC Conference Presentation

22nd Annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture (CLIC)