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Terminology in English Language Teaching

Nature and Use


Roger Berry

Based on original research and novel concepts, this book investigates the nature and use of terminology from linguistic and applied viewpoints. Throughout, problems with terminology, such as overuse by teachers and cases of synonymy and polysemy, are considered and solutions are offered.
Part One looks firstly at some basic concepts, then draws important distinctions between pedagogic and scientific terminology, and between transparent, opaque and iconic terms, before examining the historical, lexical and grammatical nature of terms.
Part Two attempts to estimate the value and relevance of terminology in language teaching and describes the use and knowledge of terminology in various language-teaching-related constituencies: learners, teachers, textbooks, grammars and research. It concludes with a discussion of the criteria for evaluating terms and an analysis of terms used in ELT.


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CHAPTER THREE Types of terms


1. Introduction Chapter Two emphasised the importance of the difference between scientific and pedagogic terminology. This chapter introduces a fur- ther, three-way distinction in the nature of terms, one that will prove highly relevant throughout the book. In this case the distinction relies on the relationship between the terms and their referents on the basis of whether there is a formal- or meaning-based connection. Three broad types will be distinguished: 1. TRANSPARENT1 terms, where the term attempts to give some indication of the meaning of the concept (e.g. countable); 2. OPAQUE terms, where no such attempt is apparent (e.g. verb); 3. ICONIC2 terms, where the term reflects (partly, at least) the form of the referent (e.g. -ing form). A fourth type, EPONYMOUS terms – a subset of the third type – will be described, and combinations will also be considered. The advan- tages and disadvantages of each type will be discussed.3 1 The distinction between transparency and opaqueness (sometimes termed ‘opacity’) has been borrowed from lexicography where it is applied to the de- scription of idioms, according to whether they can be (partly) seen through or not. See e.g. McCarthy (1990: 7-9). 2 Iconicity is a concept borrowed from semiotics describing a relationship of resemblance between forms and the entities they refer to (onomatopoeia being one type of it). 3 This chapter is an extended version of part of Berry (2008). 46 2. Transparent terms TRANSPARENCY is where the term gives a clue to the meaning, where it can be ‘seen through’....

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