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Current Trends in LSP Research

Aims and Methods

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Edited By 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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Section 1: Methods

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Section I: Methods RICHARD J. ALEXANDER ‘If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down.’ How Top Politicians Talk about Financial Crises 1. Situating the paper: A critical discourse analysis ‘take’ on Anglo-American politicians’ talk In 2008, during the turbulent weeks from 18 September to 18 October, the leaders of two major Anglophonic economies in the G7 group, the US and UK, undertook an unprecedented about turn on economic and financial policy almost over night! Foster and Magdoff (2009) de- scribe the situation: In an act of high drama, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson appeared before Congress on the evening of September 18, 2008, during which the stunned lawmakers were told, in the words of Senator Christopher Dodd, ‘that we’re literally days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.’ This was immediately followed by Paulson’s presentation of an emergency plan for a $700 billion bailout of the financial structure, in which government funds would be used to buy up virtually worthless mortgage-backed securities (referred to as ‘toxic waste’) held by fi- nancial institutions. As the news broke, the ramifications and consequences of how this meltdown was linguistically presented prompted me to start an ongo- ing and broader based critical discourse analysis (CDA) investigation. It looked at the discourse of three Anglo-American politicians who were forced into the limelight to talk about things they would have preferred rather not to. This...

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