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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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3. From ‘social philosophy’ to ‘economics’: the specificity of economics 53


3. From ‘social philosophy’ to ‘economics’: the specificity of economics Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art. Will Durant The Story of Philosophy (1926) To know the history of science is to recognize the mortality of any claim to universal truth. Evelyn Fox Keller Reflections on Gender and Science (1995) Traditionally, terminology is an obvious vantage point from which to consider a new area of knowledge: terms provide information on the conceptual structure of the field through their position in networks and relations with other terms belonging to the same sub-field. However, the title of this chapter has been chosen to highlight a different way of approaching terms, as witnesses to the way the field evolved over time and an expression of the influences that came to be exerted upon it. The information provided in this chapter was gathered thanks to the questions raised by all the economic terms that appeared to be anomalies, i.e. in contradiction with the traditional view of terms ac- cording to the GTT as described in the first section of Chapter 2 but in accordance with the notions of interdisciplinary knowledge and dia- chronic approach advocated by socioterminologists and sociocognitive terminologists. The choice of offering such general information on the origins and evolution of the domain to start with was made deliber- ately: the reader, who may not be well-versed in economic matters, will be able to refer back to this chapter when reading the following ones. The point is to make it...

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