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Current Trends in LSP Research

Aims and Methods

Series:

Margrethe Petersen and Jan Engberg

This volume offers an overview of new perspectives and ongoing developments in research on Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) and specialised discourse. Traditionally investigated on the basis of terminology and genre studies, the area now also draws on such diverse fields as sociolinguistics, sociology, psychology and communication studies. This widening range of perspectives increases the need for insights into and knowledge about current developments in research on LSP and specialised discourse.
The chapters included here have been selected to address this need. Based on papers presented at the XVII European LSP Symposium, they reflect its focus: aims and methods in current research on LSP and specialised discourse. Two chapters present the research history of the area, its current status, and emergent issues. Nine chapters exemplify methods currently applied, new aims pursued, or new aims supported by innovative methods. The methods include discourse analysis, use of specialist informants, study of multimedia texts, sociological observation, interviews, etc. The aims vary from unveiling politicians’ linguistic representation of the 2008 financial meltdown over inclusion of visual representations in LSP research to clarifying the limits of lay understanding of specialised knowledge. In sum, the volume offers the reader a holistic, yet multi-faceted overview of state-of-the-art research in this area.

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Prologue

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KLAUS SCHUBERT Specialized Communication Studies: An Expanding Discipline 1. Specialized communication studies Scholarly disciplines emerge, develop, shift and expand. The underly- ing research interest may widen or narrow its perspective or move its focus to new objects, to other features of the objects or to new criteria for assessing the features. Our discipline has reached a point in its development where the old labels no longer really cover the contents. I am writing this chapter to substantiate my conviction that our disci- pline has by now expanded to such an extent that it should be called Specialized Communication Studies. I am not arguing, however, for establishing a new discipline. My point is that the discipline which we all know has changed so much that it deserves a new name. By rela- belling it, we may reassure our understanding of this discipline as it stands today and as we are about to develop it onwards. This chapter is written from a European perspective, drawing ex- tensively on European research traditions and European sources. Indeed many of the studies I cite are in German. This may to some extent be owed to my inclination to read in my native language, but as I see it, this also mirrors the actual distribution of the research efforts and the theoretical modelling in specialized communication studies. This ac- count elaborates on a sketch which I have given earlier (Schubert 2007: 139-207). It is inevitably coloured by my personal view of what is cen- tral and...

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