Interim summary

The discussions in the preceding sections - of parts of speech, the percentage of simplexes, the degree of complexity of complex terms, the distribution of NN vs. AN, and neoclassical compounding - have all pointed to the same conclusion: the language of economics and business is much closer to general English in its terminological profile than any of the other four languages for specific purposes examined. Of these, linguistics is the most similar to economics and business. But, in the use of simplexes, relational adjectives and combining forms, even linguistic terminology has a more learned and technical flavour than the language of economics and business.

It would certainly be possible to find other dimensions along which to discriminate between the terminologies of languages for specific purposes. For example, economists and management scholars have a reputation for being very fond of abbreviations, although to a certain extent this tendency seems to be common to most languages for specific purposes. Only detailed statistics based on a larger corpus could show whether this parameter is useful for the establishment of terminological profiles. Another dimension that holds some promise is the use of eponyms, that is, of terms derived from proper names. Disciplines have used these to different degrees, and in some of them practice in this regard has undergone considerable change over time. Whereas no eponym appears in our business list, economists have resorted more often to this strategy, naming schools, laws, theorems or curves after the people who are credited with creating them: Say’s law, Pareto-optimal, Keynesian economics, Nash equilibrium, Phillips curve, etc. We do not know whether this tradition of naming still persists in the third millennium in economics, but the number of such terms has been sufficiently large to warrant the publication of a specialized dictionary of economic eponyms (cf. Segura and Rodriguez Braun 2004).

Other disciplines also have a rich eponymic past, first and foremost medicine. As the reader can easily check on any library site, there are dozens of dictionaries of medical eponyms. In recent times, however, their use has been severely restricted: they are now absent, for example, from the official terminology of anatomy, the Nomina anatomica. Natural scientists also have a solid eponymic tradition (e.g., Bohr’s condition, Carnot’s cyle, Newton’s third law) and have even converted their luminaries into names of chemical elements (e.g., einsteinium) or units of measurement (e.g., ampere). Linguists throughout the 19th century, too, could dream of achieving eternal fame through attachment of their name to that of some sound law they had discovered (e.g., Verner’s law). This naming strategy, though, has been abandoned (though there is a rule called Chomsky adjunction, also available as a backformed verb, Chomsky adjoin). Eponyms thus clearly have a distinct history in each discipline, but their use does not lend itself to the kind of quantitative display that we have chosen for other parameters in the preceding sections.

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