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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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7. Insights from interface terms 243


7. Insights from interface terms We are not students of some subject matter, but students of problems. And problems may cut right across the borders of any subject matter or discipline. Karl Popper Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963: 88) It would be interesting to inquire how many times essential advances in science have first been made possible by the fact that the boundaries of special disciplines were not respected… Trespassing is one of the most successful techniques in science. Wolfgang Köhler Dynamics in Psychology (1940: 115-116) The last type of terms which require our attention, for what they can reveal about new directions in and new approaches to a specific sci- ence, discipline, or field of specialised knowledge are “interface terms”. “Interface terms” is undoubtedly an oxymoron if one is still influenced by the traditional principles of terminology with clearly- delineated domains where terms are defined precisely depending on the domain and sub-domain to which they belong. Progress in science, technology and knowledge, however, has brought about a two-fold phenomenon: increased specialisation on the one hand, and a blurring of traditional borders on the other. The latter can be explained by the need to rely on the expertise of a wider range of researchers from var- ious horizons in order to deal with ever more intricate problems. Con- sequently, a more flexible approach to terminology has emerged in order to take into consideration the concepts resulting from the con- frontation of ideas from a number...

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