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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 FOUR The development of terms


1. Introduction The title of this chapter is intentionally, though perhaps not obviously, ambiguous. It refers to two possible interpretations of the word ‘devel- opment’: as a nominalization of either a transitive, or an intransitive, verb. In other words, terms can ‘develop’ or ‘be developed’1. The in- transitive interpretation is applied to the early years of the history of metalinguistic terminology in English, where terms seem to have arisen organically, without any obvious agents (though this of course is not the case), while the transitive interpretation is applied to more recent at- tempts to influence the course of development, where the agency is more easily traced. These later attempts have taken two courses: (a) to create terminology which is applicable to areas and approaches which have not received sufficient attention, and (b) to improve terminology for already-existing concepts. Both are discussed below. One reason for this chapter is my belief that we can better un- derstand the way things are if we understand how they got to be that way. Problems with modern terminology (and grammar in general) can be explained by reference to influences and trends in the history of terms, and, as will become apparent, in the history of grammar and grammar teaching. It will also be seen that some of the concepts intro- duced in the preceding chapters can be profitably applied to an under- standing of such developments. 1 Develop is what is called by some an ergative verb (see e.g. Halliday and Mat- thiessen 2004)...

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