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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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2. Terminology, ESP and Specialised Varieties of English 23


2. Terminology and ESP/SVE The real journey of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.3 Marcel Proust A la recherche du temps perdu (1918) The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment. Celia Green The Decline and Fall of Science (1972) Terminology, like any field of knowledge, cannot be dissociated from the social and political environment that triggered its emergence. If today’s approach to terminology differs somewhat from the original recommendations that were made by Wüster in a specific context, it would nevertheless be unfair and unrealistic to disregard his founda- tional approach: today’s researchers owe a lot to the pioneers in the field and the distance that has been taken by some in the past decades only translates the necessary evolution in the needs for and applica- tions of terminology. Hence the great many possible approaches, methods and uses that depend precisely on people’s activities, pur- poses, fields of interest and needs. Undoubtedly, a member of a stan- dardisation committee, a translator, a trainee for a particular job, a student in a specific scientific or technical field, or in translation, in- terpretation or communication (Nuopponen 1996), a researcher in a given domain, a journalist reporting on a special topic or contributing 3 Translated from the French by C. K. Scott Montcrieff (Vol. 5 The Captive); original text in French: Le seul véritable voyage, […] ce ne serait pas d’aller vers d’autres paysages, mais d’avoir...

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