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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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8. Conclusion 283


8. Conclusion Great steps in human progress are made by things that don’t work the way philosophy thought they should. If things always worked the way they should, you could write the history of the world from now on. But they don’t, and it is those deviations from the normal that make human progress. Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) It is now time to take stock of the lessons that can be drawn from the various paths that have been followed in this book to investigate a specialised domain from the point of view of a linguist, using terms as an entry point. Following in Kettering’s footsteps, I can truly say that it is, indeed, the deviations from the “normal” that have helped me progress along the path towards a better understanding of the domains of economics, finance and management; in other words, it was the atypical terms I encountered which triggered questions and led to fur- ther investigation. The stance adopted here is thus based on the idea that disconti- nuities, disharmony, complex and ambiguous phenomena should not be disregarded, but on the contrary sought as a treasure that has many riches to offer. Wüster’s positions on language and the linguistic sign were obviously influenced by positivist views and a logicist systemic vision of terminology (Gambier 1991: 49), hence his purpose to elim- inate ambiguity and terminological inconsistencies from scientific and technical communication. Postmodernism, however, has brought new approaches to many fields of knowledge, including terminology. Ter- minologists are...

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