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Economic Terms and Beyond: Capitalising on the Wealth of Notions

How Researchers in Specialised Varieties of English Can Benefit from Focusing on Terms


Catherine Resche

This book, which is aimed at researchers in specialised varieties of English, provides an illustration of how linguists can use terms, i.e. the expression of concepts in specialised fields, as entry points to explore any specialised domain, whether academic or professional, and to get acquainted with its history, its culture, and the evolution of the ideas that have nurtured it. Choosing the field of economics as an example, the author approaches terms from a diachronic, descriptive and contextual perspective, focusing on neonyms, metaphorical, ambiguous or indeterminate terms, as well as interface terms likely to underscore the evolving character of the domain. The analysis points out the role of terms as milestones highlighting key discoveries that have shaped scientific fields; terms can also be considered as barometers of the evolution of knowledge in a specific field and of a changing social environment. Whoever thought terms were only interesting for their definitions or for translation purposes will no doubt be surprised at the insights that can be gained from considering them from a different angle and for other purposes.


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1. Introduction 13


1. Introduction This book is aimed at researchers in and teachers of English as a for- eign language (EFL) in the field of specialised domains. Though the focus is on the field of economics in its broad sense, encompassing finance and management, the approach offered here can be adapted to many other areas of specialised knowledge. It can therefore be regard- ed as a case study and guide for the researchers and foreign language lecturers and professors who wish to acquire further knowledge in a specific domain and to understand the historical context beyond terms and expressions that are used in a given field. Underpinning this ap- proach is, of course, my training as a linguist and my experience of teaching English for economics in a French university for well over two decades now. The point is that, since any specialised discipline or professional field is based on theory or practice that are expressed through language, language can serve as a starting point for further investigation into specific domains and specialised communities, and into their culture and discourse. Having the privilege to teach and do my research in the same field, i.e. English for economics, management and finance, I1 have studied the domain systematically, from terminol- ogy and neology through phraseology to corpus-based genre and dis- course analyses, always approaching language as a living, evolution- ary process. All the paths I gradually explored were suggested by the terms I came across over the years for, as will be illustrated here,...

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