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Specialised communication and language teaching for specific purposes


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A growing interest can be observed over the last decades in languages for specific purposes, both in relation to their description and their acquisition and teaching. Such an interest is due, on the one hand, to the importance that the field of study has gained in present day society and, on the other, to the recognition that the achievements made in applied linguistics are receiving in different areas of knowledge (Cabré and Gómez Enterría 2006: 10-11). Throughout current recent research and studies a proliferation is observed of terms that seem to refer to the same conceptual domain: special language, specialised language, language for specific purposes (English); lengua de especialidad/especializada, lenguaje de especialidad/especializado, tecnolecto, lenguajes específicos, lengua/lenguaje para/con fines/finalidades específicas, lengua/lenguajes para/con propósitos específico (Spanish); Technolekt, Fachsprache, Berufssprache, Fachkommunikation (German). Do all these denominations constitute variants of the same term or do they convey different notions and realities? The main goal of this paper is to make some conceptual and terminological precisions about this set of terms and their teaching implications.
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li158 Studies in Language and Communication
Linguistic Insights
Peter Lang
Bárbara Eizaga Rebollar (ed.)
Studies in
and Cognition
Studies in Linguistics and Cognition
Studies in Language and Communication
Edited by Maurizio Gotti,
University of Bergamo
Volume 158
Linguistic Insights
Bern Berlin Bruxelles Frankfurt am Main New York Oxford Wien
Vijay Bhatia (Hong Kong)
Christopher Candlin (Sydney)
David Crystal (Bangor)
Konrad Ehlich (Berlin / München)
Jan Engberg (Aarhus)
Norman Fairclough (Lancaster)
John Flowerdew (Hong Kong)
Ken Hyland (Hong Kong)
Roger Lass (Cape Town)
Matti Rissanen (Helsinki)
Françoise Salager-Meyer (Mérida, Venezuela)
Srikant Sarangi (Cardiff)
Susan Šarcevi´c (Rijeka)
Lawrence Solan (New York)
Peter M. Tiersma (Los Angeles)
Bern Berlin Bruxelles Frankfurt am Main New York Oxford Wien
Bárbara Eizaga Rebollar (ed.)
Studies in Linguistics
and Cognition
ISSN 1424-8689
ISBN 978-3-0343-1138-0US-ISBN 0-8204-8382-6
© Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, Bern 2012
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Studies in linguistics and cognition / Bárbara Eizaga Rebollar (ed.).
p. cm. – (Linguistic insights: studies in language and communication; v. 158)
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-3-0343-1138-0
1. Linguistics. 2. Cognition. 3. Semantics. I. Eizaga Rebollar, Bárbara
P121.S8145 2012
410–dc23 2012000885
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements .............................................................................. 7
Preface .................................................................................................. 9
Section 1: The Lexicon and Cognition
Neology and Cognition ....................................................................... 15
Studies on Lexical Availability: The Current Situation
and Some Future Prospects ................................................................. 35
Adverbs in the Internet Lexicon: New Modes of Signification .......... 57
‘Holding’ Metaphorical Meaning from a Computational Linguistics
Approach: The Verb Hold and its Counterparts in Spanish ............... 81
Section 2: Semantics and Cognition
Attitude Verbs and Nominalization .................................................. 107
Cleft Sentences:
Semantic Properties and Communicative Meanings ........................ 133
Metaphoric and Metonymic Complexes
in Phrasal Verb Interpretation: Metaphoric Chains .......................... 153
Section 3: Communication and Cognition
Meaning Adjustment Processes in Idiom Variants ........................... 185
Beauty and Art in Science ................................................................ 213
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching
for Specific Purposes ........................................................................ 245
Strategies and Effects in Humorous Discourse: The Case of Jokes ...... 271
Notes on Contributors ....................................................................... 297
Specialised Communication and Language
Teaching for Specific Purposes3
1. Languages for international specialised communication
Over the last few decades, interest in specialised communication has
been seen to be gradually increasing, as regards its description as well
as with respect to its acquisition and teaching. The interest produced by
both aspects of specialised languages is due, on the one hand, to the
relevance that speciality has acquired in present day society, boosted by
globalising movements that expect and demand a constant transfer of
products and knowledge, and that give rise to the need for multilingual-
ism, and on the other hand it is due to the recognition from different
spheres of the achievements made in Applied Linguistics and the im-
portant role played by this field in the framework of General Linguistics
(Cabré/Gómez de Enterría 2006: 10-11). Until recently, the English
language dominated international specialised communication. In fact,
research into languages for specific purposes (LSP) began in the 1960s
1 <>.
2 <>.
3 This study is part of the research projects entitled ‘Estrategias lingüísticas aplica-
das a la comunicación social: estudios de necesidades comunicativas y diseño de
materiales en los ámbitos de la Medicina, la Administración y la Empresa’
(HUM2006-12523/FILO) and ‘Fraseografía teórica y práctica. Bases Para la
elaboration de un dictionaries de locutions’ (HUM2007-60649/FILO), both from
the Ministry of Education and Science’s National R+I+D Plan and financed by this
Ministry and Feeder Funds, and ‘Studio de la communication social y strategies
linguistics en lass interactions médico-paciente, Administración-ciudadano y em-
presa-cliente’ (HUM 1202), funded by the Andalusian Government’s General Di-
rector of Research, Technology and Enterprise in its 2005 call for incentive grants
for excellent research projects conducted by research teams.
246 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
with the teaching of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). After World
War II, a considerable increase in economic, scientific and technologi-
cal activity was produced, requiring the use of just one language for
international communication. Thanks to the economic power of the
United States of America, the English language found itself in an ad-
vantageous position in becoming that international language. However,
the Spanish language, now with more than 400 million speakers, fol-
lows close behind (Aguirre 2004: 1111). The demand for Spanish as a
language for professional communication in international contexts is
due to a combination of different factors, amongst which the following
stand out (Aguirre 1998: 5-6; 2001: 34; 2004: 1109):
xthe internationalisation of economy and of e-commerce;
xthe integration of the American and Asian markets;
xthe increasing Hispanic population in the United States;
xthe applications of Information and Communication Technolo-
gies (ICT);
xmigratory phenomena and, in the European Union, the possibili-
ties and prospects offered by the free circulation of merchandise,
workers and professionals, exchange programs for teachers, re-
searchers and students, the expansion of member states, as well
as the attention received by the area of second languages or for-
eign languages in creating a profile of a multicultural and multi-
lingual European citizen.
The studies carried out by the Institute Cervantes in its yearly Anuarios,
as well as those carried out by the Association for the Advancement of
Spanish as an Economic Resource (E/RE, Asociación para el Progreso
del Español como Recurso Económico) and the Spanish Institute for
Foreign Trade (ICEX, Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior), indicate
that the Spanish language has become an economic resource of great
importance, meaning that it is a product that can be exported and that can
generate significant profits. The value of Spanish is growing in academic
and services sectors (business, tourism, translation and interpretation
etc.) (Aguirre 1998: 6-7). This also entails an increase in the theoretical
and applied research of languages for specific purposes (LSP) as regards
their description and linguistic characterisation as well as relating to the
teaching-learning process. In all pieces of research that have taken place
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 247
over recent years, one can note a proliferation in the use of terms that, in
principle, appear to refer to the same idea: lengua(s) de especialidad,
lenguaje(s) de especialidad, lengua(s) especializada(s), lenguaje(s) es-
pecializado(s), lengua(s) para/con fines/finalidades específicas, len-
guaje(s) para/con fines/finalidades específicas, lengua(s) para/con
propósitos específicos, lenguaje(s) para/con propósitos específicos. Are
all these terms variants of the same term, or do they refer to different
concepts and realities? The need for a conceptual and terminological
definition is justified not only by this abundance of terms, but also (and
this is extremely important) because all disciplines that demand scientific
status must be questioned and subject their terminology to a critical re-
view (Gómez de Enterría 2006: 49; 2009: 14).
2. Special languages, a problem of terminology
Although the studies about special languages have greatly gained in
relevance over recent years in Applied Linguistics, the term’s bounda-
ries are still vague, not only concerning the definition of the concept
but also the choice of label used. Terms such as lenguas de especiali-
dad (Gómez de Enterría 2009), lenguajes de especialidad (Cabré
1993), lenguas especializadas (Lerat 1997), lenguajes especializados
por la temática (Sager et al. 1980), lenguas especiales (Rodríguez
Díez 1979), lenguaje de la ciencia y de la técnica (Gili Gaya 1964),
tecnolecto (Haensch 1987), lengua técnica (Quemada 1978), micro-
lengua (Balboni 1982), lengua de minoría (Hernán Ramírez 1979),
lenguajes con fines específicos (Beaugrande 1987), lenguajes específi-
cos, lenguaje científico (Gutiérrez Rodilla 2005), lenguaje sectorial
(Beccaria 1973), discurso científico (Grabarczyk 1987), sottocodice
(Berruto 1997), sublenguaje (Lehrberger/Kittredge 1982), etc. have
been used as terminological equivalents in almost all the literature
existing on the subject. However, the German linguist Hahn (1983:
60) believes that this wide variety of terms (Arbeitssprache, Berufss-
prache, Gruppensprache, Fachkommunikation, Fachprosa, Fachspra-
248 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
che, Fachtext, Register, Sachprosa, Sachsprache, Sachtext, Sekundär-
sprache, Sondersprache, Sprache der..., Subsprache, Technolekt, Teil-
sprache, Terminologie, Varietät, Variante, Zwecksprache) responds,
in general, to the concept’s multifaceted nature, since its research can
be approached from different angles. In this way, the term used will
vary according to how we consider the content (Inhalt), the roles of
the sender/receiver (Sprecher/Hörer), the aim/function (Inten-
tion/Funktion) and the language system (Sprachsystem).
The following diagram represents this issue relating to termi-
nology and the different names used, given the different criteria pro-
posed by this author (Hahn 1983: 61):
Fig.1. Terminological proposal in Hahn (1983).
Sprache der...
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 249
Many authors have tried to establish distinctions between the different
terms that are used. Amongst those who have had the greatest success
in defining such terms are Cabré and Gómez de Enterría (2006: 10-
12). These linguists group the differences of the different alternatives
under three basic aspects: the use of lenguaje/lengua, the use of the
adjective especializado before de especialidad or para propósitos
(fines) específicos.
As far as the duality of lenguaje/lengua is concerned, Saussure
(1916) established a clear relationship of inclusion between both
terms, and it is this Saussurean distinction that is inherited by au-
thors such as Lerat (1997: 17), who prefer the term langue spécial-
isée. For Cabré and Gómez de Enterría (2006: 11), on the other
hand, it is necessary to start from a second meaning of the word len-
guaje in order to understand the use of lenguaje and lengua as syno-
nyms, with lenguaje understood to be “the set or system of specific
discursive and grammatical resources that distinguish between dif-
ferent systems”. We share the objections raised by Cabré herself
(2004: 20) concerning the misuse of the term lenguaje. They are
lenguajes’ de especialidad if we use the term language in a “meta-
phorical sense, in the same way that we use the word language when
referring to the language of flowers or the language of bees”, that is
why it is replaced by the term discursos especializados and why the
texts made up of such specialised discourse are called textos espe-
cializados. Similar points to those made by Cabré can be found in
Ciapuscio (2003: 40), who championing the term textos especiali-
zados introduces a new terminological issue by identifying the terms
discurso and texto as synonyms.
By taking these approaches as a starting point but from differ-
ent linguistic fields, other authors have provided a different interpre-
tation of this problem of terminology. On this subject, Montes Gi-
raldo (1998: 557) states that the indiscriminate use of len-
gua/lenguaje could be due to a “casi seguro influjo angloger-
mánico”, since this differentiation between the terms lenguaje and
lengua that can be found in the majority of the Romance languages
(in French langue/langage, in Italian lingua/linguaggio) is not rele-
vant in languages such as English, German or other languages in
which the two concepts are brought together under one term (in Eng-
250 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
lish language, in German Sprache). In this respect, Montes Giraldo
(1998: 557) adds:
Muchos de los usos que considero perturbaciones del sistema tradicional se dan
en traducciones o comentarios de obras escritas en inglés o alemán. Y tal parece
que a fuerza de maltraducir language o Sprache siempre como lenguaje, los au-
tores acaban trasladando a sus producciones originales los usos empleados en
sus traducciones o que se les han pegado de los autores que comentan.
In relation to the adjective especializado, Lerat (1997:17) outlines the
convenience of using this participle over other types of syntagmas, as
it “‘permite una gradación entre especialización, normalización e inte-
gración de elementos exógenos”. However, Cabré and Gómez de En-
terría (2006: 11) conceive the lenguajes especializados or de especia-
lidad as “el conjunto de recursos de una lengua, complementados con
los procedentes de otros sistemas, utilizados en una situación específi-
ca”, consigning the term lenguajes para propósitos específicos for the
aforementioned conjunto de recursos (set of resources) in the context
of foreign languages teaching.
Finally, Cabré and Gómez de Enterría (2006) establish that the
difference between the term lenguaje in the singular and plural raises
a problem that is purely conceptual. Some authors prefer to speak of
lenguajes de especialidad as independent subsets characterised by
the different subject areas, whereas other authors opt for a unitary
approach (lenguaje o lengua de especialidad), understanding the
term as “un terreno abstracto, fruto de las distintas variedades
temáticas” (Cabré 1993: 144), whose unit would be characterised by
three types of components: pragmatic, functional and linguistic.
2.1. A move away from variationist linguistics
and toward specialised languages
However, this problem of terminology is not exempt from conceptual
difficulties. Many varied attempts have been made to define and spec-
ify specialised languages with respect to general language. Such at-
tempts include those that defend the term specialised languages with
simple lexical variants from a certain language (Rey 1976; Quemada
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 251
1978; Rondeau 1983), and those that have proposed the existence of
specialised languages as linguistic codes that are differentiated from
the general language.
Amongst the former, there are those that consider specialised
languages to be characterised “por una tendencia a la univocidad y
por una serie de léxicos particulares – o terminologías – determinados
por el área de conocimiento de que se trate” (Agustín 2000: 1254-
The latter are those that defend the idea that the opposition be-
tween specialised language and ordinary language makes no sense. In
this respect, Hoffmann (1984: 53) refers to specialised languages
(Fachsprache) as:
die Gesamtheit aller sprachlichen Mittel, die in einem fachlich begrenzbaren
Kommunikationsbereich verwendet werden, um die Verständigung zwischen
den in diesem Bereich tätigen Menschen zu gewährleisten.
They are therefore linguistic codes that consist of specific rules and
units and are called sublenguajes. They share the same basis, which
is the global language system (Gesamtsprache), this being the lin-
guistic system or language. Therefore, specialised languages would
fit into this whole (Gesamtsprache), along with ordinary language
(Gemeinsprache), which would be considered another sublanguage,
as can be seen in the following diagram by Hoffmann (1998: 50):
Fig. 2. Types of sublanguages in Hoffmann (1998).
Other authors, such as Varantola (1986), Sager et al. (1980) and
Picht/Draskau (1985), have taken a middle stance, in which special-
ised languages are dependent subsets of the system that deal with
pragmatic and extralinguistic matters. It is necessary to point out that
in this context, Sager et al. conclude their study by differentiating
specialised languages from other types of subsets, such as dialects
Llenguatge nacional
(llenguatge global)
Subllenguatge 1
Llenguatge comú
Subllenguatge 2
Llenguatge de la
prosa literària
Subllenguatge 3
Llenguatge de la
Subllenguatge 4
LE Física
Subllenguatge 5
LE MatemàƟques
Subllenguatge 6
LE Electrotècnia
252 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
and sociolects. With this approach they distinguish between those
geographic and social subsets that form part of a language and that
are acquired subconsciously, and specialised languages that can in
turn include dialectal and social variants and require conscious and
specific learning by groups of individuals4. We find ideas similar to
those proposed by Sager et al. in Haensch (1987: 11-12), who in the
following diagram represents the relationships of a lengua común or
general “que en realitat és una abstracció, i els seus subsistemes, les
llengües particulars que són els dialectes, sociolectes i tecnolectes”.
4 Along this same line of reasoning and with regards to variationist linguis-
tics, Casas Gómez (1993: 102-104) brings together the statements of various
linguists on the differences between the diaphasic level and the diastratic
and diatopic level, proposed by Coseriu. Among these authors, it is worth
highlighting Salvador (1987: 42, 1988:279), who defends the opinion “que
una cosa son los estilos, cuya elección depende de la propia voluntad del
hablante, y otra los dialectos y sociolectos, a los que se pertenece involunta-
riamente, pues cuando se tiene discernimiento y capacidad de decisión para
usarlos o no, es porque se utilizan no ya como tales dialectos o sociolectos,
sino como estilos de lengua”. Casas Gómez (1993: 106) concludes by ar-
guing that “lo que existe realmente son usos cultos, familiares, populares,
vulgares, literarios, incluso técnicos, de acuerdo con el entorno pragmático
en que se inserten”. This is the stance taken by Cabré (2004: 23) when sta-
ting “que no podemos hablar de ‘lenguajes’ especializados strictu sensu, si-
no de usos especializados a partir de una misma lengua o de discursos espe-
cializados” or that of Lerat (1997: 18) when considering the specialised
language “como el uso de una lengua natural para exponer técnicamente los
conocimientos especializados”.
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 253
Fig. 3. Common language and variation according to Haensch (1987).
This stance taken by Haensch brings us closer to those that, from a
variationist point of view, have tried to define the concept of specialised
language5. In this respect, Casas Gómez (1997: 1993) includes the dif-
5 In his monograph on the origin of the language of the economy in Italy, in
comparison with the variationist point of view, Sosnowski (2006: 12) defends
the idea that “le lingue speciali formano un insieme di subvarietà linguistiche
basate sulla divisione del sapere della comunità dei parlanti e possono avere
varianti dialettali e sociolinguistiche, ma la descrizione delle lingue speciali in
chiave sociolinguistica e dialettologica, come varianti di una lingua nazionale,
per una matè-
per grups
parlars locals
determinats per l´espai
Llengua general
o comuna
Llengua poèti-
Llengua culta
no literària Llengua literà-
Llengua familiar
Llengua popular
Llengua vulgar
254 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
ferentiation between lenguaje común and lenguaje técnico in the aspects
covered by diaphasic variation6, along with the differentiation between
language styles, between spoken and written language, and differences
in pragmatic order relating to factors such as sex, age or generation.
However, in a previous work this author (Casas Gómez 2003: 570)
discusses the existence of an independent specialised variation7 “which
is midway between diaphasy and diastraty” 8
. Shifko (2001: 23) pro-
poses, in the same way, that a natural language like Spanish is made up
of a set of many varieties that take into consideration different variation
parameters for its classification: time (cronolectos), space (topolectos or
può non essere sufficiente perché, da una parte, le lingue speciali trascendono
i confini nazionali e, dall´atra, dispongono di regole proprie”.
6 This same understanding is followed by Berruto (1997: 154) when defining the
sottocodice as “varietà diafasiche caratterizzate da un lessico speciale, in rela-
zione a particolari domini extralinguistici e alle corrispondenti aree di significa-
to”. However, Ettinger (1982: 389) states that “por ‘tecnolectos’ o ‘lenguas de
especialidad’ se entienden lenguajes de grupo que, desde el punto de vista lin-
güístico, habría que clasificar dentro de la diferenciación diastrática”. For a de-
tailed study on diaphasic variation, see Casas Gómez (1993, 1997).
7 The concept of specialised variation already appeared in German research
during the 1980s, and the linguists Möhn and Pelka (1984: 26) to be specific
are those that use the term Variante ‘Fachsprache’ in their manual on specia-
lised languages: “Wir verstehen unter Fachsprachen heute die Variante der
Gesamtsprache, die der Erkenntnis und begrifflichen Bestimmung fachspezifi-
scher Gegenstände sowie der Verständingung über sie dient und damit den
spezifischen kommunikativen Bedürfnissen im Fach allgemein Rechnung
trägt [...] Entsprechend der Vielzahl der Fächer, die man mehr oder weniger
exakt unterscheiden kann, ist die Variante ‘Fachsprache’ in zahlreichen mehr
oder weniger exakt abgrenzbaren Erscheinungsformen realisiert, die als Fach-
sprachen bezeichnet sind”.
8 The reasons put forward by the author for an independent existence of specia-
lised variation is, on the one hand, to avoid “convertir la diafasía en un con-
cepto aglutinador de todo tipo de diferenciación que no pueda adscribirse al
ámbito diatópico o diastrático” and, on the other hand, the fact that “no resulta
tan tajante la delimitación entre diastratía y diafasía, al existir demarcaciones
fronterizas y gradaciones entre ambos tipos de variación […] tal y como ocu-
rre, por ejemplo, (en casos intermedios que parten de lo diafásico hacia lo
diastrático variación diafásico-diastrática) en los correlatos entre ambas cate-
gorías existentes en las terminologías profesionales, léxicos específicos o len-
guajes especiales” (Casas Gómez/Escoriza Morera 2009: 151-178).
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 255
regiolectos), the different groups of speakers (sociolectos), the stylistic
level (estratolectos), the speciality (tecnolectos or funciolectos). If we
observe the proposed typology, we can see that it considers speciality as
a separate parameter from stylistic level.
2.1.1. Variation in specialised communication
It is evident that specialised variation can, in turn, lead to intra-
variation. In this respect, Hoffmann (1987) articulates his theory of
sublanguages from the functional variation present in specialised
communication. The German linguist distinguishes between horizon-
tal variation, relating to the subject in question and which is the result
of the comparison between the linguistic resources of specialised lan-
guages or between the linguistic resources of other sublanguages, and
vertical variation, which is considered a stratification regarding the
growing specificity and precision experienced by language in commu-
nication, ie. the level of specialisation of a text.
The division on the horizontal axis does not allow us to quantify
the number of specialised languages, since specialised fields (the dif-
ferent subject matters) are continuously increasing due to scientific
progress, although we can classify them, “bien por materias (química,
biología, balompié, etc.), bloques de materia (ciencias sociales, cien-
cias humanas, deportes, etc.), o perspectivas dentro de una materia
(teoría, aplicación, etc.)” (Cabré/Gómez de Enterría 2006: 19). Con-
sidering the vertical division, on the other hand, allows us to classify
the specialised texts (results of specialised communication) according
to the level of specialisation. According to Hoffmann (1998: 73), the
criteria for determining the strata are the level of abstraction, the ex-
ternal linguistic form, the social setting, the participants in the com-
munication, etc. Loffler-Laurian (1983: 10), on the other hand, bases
his typology on the communicative situation, especially in relation to
the personality of the sender and receiver, as well as the characteristics
of the channel used for the transmission of the message, in which six
types of scientific discourse can be distinguished (specialised scien-
tific discourse, scientific discourse semi-popularisation, scientific
discourse popularisation, pedagogical scientific discourse, academic
discourse and official discourse). Finally, along the lines of what has
256 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
been named complex typologies (Heinemann/Viehweger 1991), inte-
grating typologies (Gläser 1993) or modular typologies, Ciapuscio
(2003:97) establishes his multi-level typology, distinguishing between
the following levels in texts: functional, situational, semantic and
Basing his ideas on the special languages described by
Rodríguez Díez (1981: 53) and with a variationist point of view, Casas
Gómez (2003: 572) proposes the existence of subtypes of special lan-
guages that in turn can include more specific markings, covering dif-
ferent levels in the scale of technicality, from the different jargon (jar-
gon variation) and special languages (specific variation), to the differ-
ent technical-scientific languages. This form of grading is based on
the two criteria proposed by Rodríguez Díez (1981: 52): firstly, the
horizontal sociological criterion (which would roughly correspond to
the diaphasic dimension) and secondly, the vertical sociological crite-
rion which adapts to the diastratic differences raised by the Romanian
linguist Coseriu.
3. Languages for specific purposes (LSP)
As has been shown in Section 2, Cabré and Gómez de Enterría (2006:
12) consider specialised languages to be subsystems of specific (lin-
guistic and non-linguistic) resources, used in contexts that are consid-
ered specialised due to their communicative conditions, insofar as
languages for specific purposes (LSP) constitute the same set of re-
sources, although from the point of view of analysing their use in
“ámbitos temáticos-funcionales precisos”9 and the teaching-learning
9 In the same way, Bhatia (2008: 160) expands the scope of LSP from the des-
cription of the linguistic resources used to considering the context as a key
factor, as “ignorar cualquier aspecto del contexto del especialista puede crear
problemas interculturales o interdisciplinares, algunos de los cuales pueden
llegar a transformarse en potenciales obstáculos para un resultado comunicati-
vo pragmáticamente exitoso”. Research into LSP is nowadays a disciplinary
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 257
process. This means that regarding the specialised language, the
specificity of the resources is set depending on the specificity of the
situation and/or communicative function that dominates in LSP, since
both authors prefer to reserve the name of LSP for foreign languages
teaching. Similarly, Martín Peris (2007) places specialised languages
in the L1 framework given that, as well as the knowledge of the sub-
ject matter, they present formal characteristics of their own and their
number is relatively small and easy to establish, as they are made up
of more permanent specialities. LSP, however, fits into the L2 frame-
work, given that the knowledge of discourse predominates over that of
the subject matter, social uses dominate formal characteristics, and it
is more difficult to specify their number as there are more of them and
they are heterogeneous. Seen in this way, a specialised language con-
stitutes a resource for the use of LSP. Gómez de Enterría (2006: 52) is
more categorical on the subject of LSP, stating that “no se trata tanto
de enseñar una lengua de especialidad, sino de hacer una inmersión en
un discurso especializado concreto, el de la lengua propia de una si-
tuación precisa, con un uso puntual y en un ámbito profesional deter-
minado” (cf. also Moirand, 1994: 79).
3.1. Types of specific purposes
According to the Centro Virtual Cervante’s Diccionario de términos
clave de ELE, LSP “se centra en los procesos de enseñanza-
aprendizaje que facilitan el dominio de la comunicación especializada,
esto es, la lengua que utilizan los profesionales que trabajan en un
determinado contexto laboral o los expertos que desarrollan su activi-
dad en una disciplina académica concreta”. According to Hutchinson
and Waters (1987: 21), LSP is the approach used in the teaching of
languages when the aim is to satisfy the communicative needs of spe-
field with a multifaceted objective that turns to other disciplines and ap-
proaches relating to the study of communication, such as Ethnography of
Communication, Sociology of Work-related Communication, Psycholinguis-
tics, Cognitive Psychology and academic disciplines and professional cultures
(Law, Economy, Journalism, Engineering, etc.) (2008: 158).
258 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
cific groups of learners. Both definitions capture the classifications
(limited and open, respectively) that can be observed in the literature
on the subject. The first definition only mentions professional and
academic purposes, whereas the second definition includes as many
specific purposes as specific groups of students that can be estab-
lished. Consequently, in recent years the name fines or propósitos
específicos [specific purposes] has not only spread to the teaching of
languages to immigrants in school contexts (children and teenagers),
but also to adult immigrants. Four different categories were initially
established for the specific purposes of the English language (Hut-
chinson/Waters 1987: 16): ESP (English for Specific Purposes), EAP
(English for Academic Purposes), EST (English for Science & Tech-
nology) and EOP (English for Occupational Purposes). As regards the
United States, the specific purposes are currently divided into three
large groups: academic (general and according to speciality), occupa-
tional (business, social services and technology) and vocational
(work-related and linguistic training) (Robinson 1991: 17); in the
United Kingdom, EST (English for Science & Technology) is included
in ESP (English for Specific Purposes), which is maintained alongside
EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and EOP (English for Occupa-
tional Purposes) (Hutchinson/Waters 1987: 16, Aguirre 1998: 15).
Nowadays it is difficult to determine the number and types of specific
purposes, as we are facing classifications that are aimed at the market
according to the evolution and demand of the environment (Aguirre
1998: 15). This has led to researchers preferring to use the phrases
Español con Fines Profesionales and Enseñanza del español lengua
de especialidad (Gómez de Enterría 2009: 14-15) when discussing the
teaching-learning process of specialised communication in profes-
sional contexts, whose objectives and purposes are of a very different
nature to the specific needs of children or immigrants. In this way, the
specific purposes are restricted to the academic and professional aims,
whose main specialities, according to the current demand in the case
of the Spanish language, are limited to the fields of law, business,
tourism, diplomacy, health sciences and the environment (Gómez de
Enterría 2009: 63-67).
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 259
3.1.1. Languages for academic purposes (LAP)
The aim of teaching languages for academic purposes (LAP)10 is to
help students acquire skills that will allow them to succeed in the uni-
versity setting11, in other words being sufficiently able in academic
communication not only as the specialised language of the scientific
community, but also as the “código oral y escrito que utilizan docentes
y estudiantes en ámbitos universitarios para presentar, discutir y
evaluar información de carácter científico” (Vázquez 2004: 1129). In
this sense, the student should be able to producing different types of
texts (exams, reviews, classwork, essays, reports, written papers, dis-
sertation, thesis, presentations, monographs, etc.) and understanding
the texts used in the different subjects (master classes, exhibitions,
conferences, scientific articles, monographs, debates, etc.). In other
words, they should be able to participate in the different types of
classes and academic activities. Regardless of the language in ques-
tion, academic discourse has individual characteristics as regards the
way in which information is organised and structured, the intervention
and alternation of turns of the speakers, the register and style on each
occasion. The discourse differs, furthermore, from one language to
another and, in turn, in each educational system, in the teaching activ-
10 The main factor behind the appearance of this discipline is the existence of
programs providing mobility in Europe for students and teachers (ERAS-
MUS/SOCRATES). Over the years, the typical profile of students taking part
in these programs has evolved, as now they are not only language students but
also students of other degrees that, as well as learning the target language,
wish to study in the target language (Vázquez 2006: 133). More information
on academic discourse and the achievements of the ADIEU (Akademischer
Diskurs in der europäischen Union) Project – the aim of which is the devel-
opment of the linguistic and intercultural ability in the target language of
ERASMUS/SOCRATES students (Vázquez 2006: 132) – can be found at
11 Academic purposes generally refer to universities; although there are authors
who expand their scope to the teaching of the language in school contexts
(Primary Education and Secondary Education) (cf. Pastor Cesteros 2006).
However, for this last type of teaching – which has significant differences as
regards the teaching-learning process, the motivation of the students, the
teaching context, etc. – it is preferable to use the name lengua de instrucción
(ELI, Español como Lengua de Instrucción) (cf. Villalba/Hernández 2004).
260 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
ity and in the way in which the communication takes place in the
classroom, and, just like any other discursive activity, it is closely tied
to the culture from which it arises. This leads to the need for a prag-
matic educational approach that deals with linguistic matters and so-
ciocultural aspects (Pastor Cesteros 2006). Consequently, Vázquez
(2004: 1130) believes that research into LAP should cover the charac-
teristics of academic genres, curriculum design, needs analysis, objec-
tives, theoretical contexts (including corpus analyses), methodological
approach, learning environments, evaluation, communication strate-
gies, the grammar of the academic text and the analysis of materials.
3.1.2. Languages for occupational purposes (LOP)
The main objective of teaching languages for occupational purposes
(LOP) is to provide the necessary communicative ability so that the
student is able to cope in different professional contexts. All special-
ised communicative situations require that the following are taken into
consideration: verbal and nonverbal communication processes, inclu-
sion of the many forms of ICT, as well as the context of internationali-
sation where a communicative exchange takes place and which im-
plies a knowledge of the different cultures regarding the habits and
customs of the community and how to act in business and corporate
cultures. In this respect, as stated by Aguirre (2001: 36), it is clear that
“el nivel de competencia o capacidad y las técnicas concretas quedar-
ían establecidas a partir del análisis de la situación meta en la que, en
función del cargo y de las responsabilidades, deban desenvolverse”. It
is obvious that professionals in different organisations and institutions
constantly participate in complex communicative situations, whether
oral, written or a combination, in transactional or personal interac-
tions, requiring fluency and efficiency as well as mastery of all inter-
active channels (face to face, over the telephone, by video or telecon-
ference etc.). Interactions are also necessary for transmitting orders,
reminding of duties and functions, guiding or consulting, controlling
activities and performance, administration of information coming
from different areas etc. Training courses can have a standard objec-
tive (Spanish for business, English for tourism etc.) or more precise
objectives, resulting in courses that are designed à la carte in order to
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 261
meet very specific communication needs in a specialised language
(English for venture capital executives, English for experts on well-
ness tourism etc.)12 (Gómez de Enterría 2009: 67; Cabré/Gómez de
Enterría 2006: 56-57).
3.2. LSP teaching methodology
Like in the area of teaching general competence, the teaching of LSP
must be considered by taking into account linguistic, pragmatic and
functional aspects, or in other words, by looking at grammatical, dis-
cursive, sociolinguistic and sociocultural contents (Gómez de Enterría
2006: 53; 2009: 71). When organising the teaching process, one must
identify the purpose and communicative situation, ie. the communica-
tive competence required by the specific field; set the objectives fol-
lowing the needs analysis; establish the methodology and evaluation
system to be used; and draw up an action plan that covers the organi-
sation, the order and time frame of the contents, which must be flexi-
ble in order to adapt to the group’s actual needs and learning pace.
Before examining the main teaching techniques in depth, it is worth
pointing out a series of general characteristics that are common for the
teaching processes of all specific types. We find ourselves before a
specialised form of teaching that is directed towards goals in a specific
field, which shows us a certain attitude towards the language and es-
tablishes a series of themes, concepts, ideas, texts and specific activi-
ties that are usually imparted during a limited training period and,
12 Rey Piulestán, 3rd year PhD student of ‘Lingüística y Comunicación. Teoría y
Aplicaciones’ at the University of Cadiz, is currently carrying out a piece of
research for her Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), supervised by Dr.
Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá, consisting of the design of an English Business
Course specifically for the telecommunications industry. This work is based
on the teaching experience of the PhD student, who gives telephone conversa-
tion classes to employees of a telecommunications multinational corporation,
covering the different professional categories, from secretaries to team leaders
or managers, and from executives to technicians. The majority belong to de-
partments of Marketing, Human Resources, Buying, Strategics, Communica-
tion or Legal Advice.
262 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
sometimes, with time pressures. The students are adults in education
or professionals from the specific field requiring specialised education
from the teacher (Aguirre 2004: 1121-1123). Finally, it is based on the
analysis of the group’s specific and actual needs; an aspect that to-
gether with the knowledge of the specific communicative competence
and of the group’s prior experience in that specific field makes up the
basis of the LSP teaching-learning process. According to Velázquez-
Bellot (2004), the needs analysis must be selective (determining the
area with the relevant information: a department or service, a project,
a speciality type, etc.), situational (daily work-related and cultural
contexts), qualitative (the data must be representative of the area),
quantitative (sufficient for the data to be representative) and educa-
tional (it should help in the design of teaching materials using the
gathered information). The instruments used to detect the needs are
provided by questionnaires, interviews, analyses of job offers, inter-
views with professionals and institutions from the professional field,
publications etc. (Aguirre 2004: 1122; Velázquez-Bellot 2004).
The teaching of LSP has passed through various stages since it
began in the Anglophone world13, which Hutchinson and Waters
(1987: 9; cf. also Aguirre 2004: 1112-1113) summarise in five phases:
x1960s: analysis of the concept of specialised language and their
lexicon and grammatical characteristics for the drawing up of
teaching materials.
x1970s: movement away from the analysis of lexical and gram-
matical features towards the description of specialised discourse
and its use in the classroom.
xEarly 1980s: analysis of the target language and the linguistic
characteristics of this situation; adoption of the curriculum as an
element for organising the teaching-learning process.
13 With regard to the teaching of Español para Fines Específicos (EFE), the
1980s is normally considered to be the period when academic institutions,
publishers and professionals began to take an interest in the subject and tried
to satisfy the demand, which increased following the entry of Spain into the
European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1986. A re-
view of the field’s beginnings and the path followed over the last decade can
be found in Felices Lago (2005).
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 263
x1980s: analysis of the necessary skills and of the corresponding
communication strategies.
x1990s: movement away from language analysis and teaching
process towards an approach focused on the learning process
(learning-centred approach).
This last trend, whichpays special attention to the group/student’s learn-
ing, requires work methods to be adopted that are based on activities that
are frequently carried out by professionals of the field, amongst which
the following stand out: the global simulation method, projects, assign-
ments, oral presentations and case studies (Aguirre 2004: 1123-1126):
a) Global simulation14: a teaching technique that proposes the
reconstruction in the classroom of the components which make
up a communicative situation in a specific field. For its success,
it is necessary to have a thorough plan, in which one must look
at the space of the room, organise its layout, establish an action
plan, set the information collection norms, establish the rules of
the role play, provide the students with their roles, work with
authentic texts, use the ICT that is most frequently used etc. The
assessment is continuous and shared, with the students monitor-
ing their progress in a file and participating in their own ap-
praisal and that of their peers.
b) Project-based pedagogy: this is a final broad task in which all
activities are directed towards the preparation and development
of a project relating to professional activity. In planning it, a se-
ries of steps must be organised that cover subject choice, the
search for materials and literature, the distribution of individual
and group-based work, and the organisation of the information
gathered, leading up to the project’s layout and presentation.
c) Task-Based Learning (TBL): an approach that is currently very
widespread in the teaching of foreign languages, with the task
14 Cabré and Gómez de Enterría (2006: 79) consider global simulation the best
teaching technique as a result of it being an innovative procedure for the tea-
ching of different precision strategies, where “el soporte contextual de la rea-
lidad profesional permite una puesta en práctica de los discursos especializa-
dos insertos en el funcionamiento de la comunicación”.
264 Ana Isabel Rodríguez-Piñero Alcalá & María García Antuña
being a unit in the planning of the teaching activity. It helps
make the students understand, handle, create and interact in a
specialised language; their attention is focused more on mean-
ing than on form. When planning an assignment, it is important
to decide on a clear objective from the beginning and to take
into account prior learning experience, at the same time as pro-
viding motives for interaction and communication, as well as
encouraging the resolving of problems and conflicts through
different means and with different results, taking into account
that the final results will be shared in the form of an exhibition.
d) Oral presentations: a fundamental work method in the teaching
of professional communication, since it allows the student to
practice nonverbal communication in a natural manner. It can
be used alone or it can form part of one of the aforementioned
approaches; it can be carried out on one’s own or in a group.
This work method includes all communication skills, as one has
to research the subject, select the relevant information, transfer
that information in a summarised form to a presentation board,
poster etc., and explain in greater depth the data provided.
e) Case studies: a technique that provides the student with the
opportunity to analyse real-life problems in a professional con-
text, which is frequently used in the teaching of numerous spe-
cialised languages (Law, Economy etc.). It also includes all
communication skills and allows problem-solving strategies to
be tested, as well as helping with the learning strategies to be
learnt, since they are based on the concepts, principles and pro-
cedures that are used in the specific field.
4. Conclusions
In this chapter we have not considered the conceptual and termino-
logical distinction between lengua or lenguaje de especialidad or es-
pecializado, but rather the definition of the scope of specialised lan-
Specialised Communication and Language Teaching for Specific Purposes 265
guages compared with that of LSP. The specific purposes are limited
to academic and professional purposes, since their circumstances and
communicative needs vary significantly from those of children or
immigrants that are learning a specialised language. Although there is
no significant difference between the teaching of general competence
and specific competence, what we have found, from this last field, is a
certain inclination towards a series of teaching techniques based on
work methods that are part of normal professional activities. Recently,
the value of Spanish as an economic resource and product has been
rising, as is clear from the fact that it has become the second language
for international professional communication.
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En las siguientes páginas presentaremos algunas de las dificultades que entraña la escolarización en una L2 y, en este caso, los retos que plantea el dominio del español como lengua de instrucción. Para ello, analizaremos someramente el modelo de escolarización de inmigrantes adoptado en España, comparándolo con el de otros países. A continuación, analizaremos los procesos de aprendizaje de una L2 por niños y jóvenes en contextos de inmersión 1 y las necesidades lingüísticas derivadas de la escolarización en otra lengua. Por último, plantearemos algunas propuesta para abordar el spañol como lengua de instrucción (ELI) In the following pages we will present some of the difficulties involved in schooling in an L2 and, in this case, the challenges posed by mastery of Spanish as the language of instruction. For this, we will briefly analyze the Immigrant schooling model adopted in Spain, comparing it with that of other countries. Next, we will analyze the learning processes of an L2 by children and young people in immersion contexts 1 and the needs linguistic differences derived from schooling in another language. Finally, we will make some proposals to address the Spanish as a Language of Instruction (ELI)
Les llengües d´especialitat o "tecnolectes". - In: Revista de llengua i dret. 1. 1983. S. 9-16
Teaching of languages for specific academic and professional purposes, popularly known as LPE, has long been using linguistic analyses of standardized genres as basis for the design and development of programs and materials. Recent developments in the field of discourse and genre analysis have raised a number of issues which are of fundamental importance to LPE raising a number of fundamentally crucial pedagogical issues which have significant consequences for the pragmatic success or failure of communication in institutionalized contexts. One of these issues is the newly acquired understanding and awareness of the increasing dynamic complexity of professional genres in cross-disciplinary and culturally diverse contexts. The other is the lack of understanding of the nature and function expertise in specific professional contexts and the role of language in the acquisition of such expertise. Furthermore, we still have no clear understanding of whether, and to what extent, such disciplinary expertise is teachable or learnable. The paper reviews some of the recent research in relevant areas to identify and discuss some of these important issues which have strong implications for the teaching and learning of languages for specific purposes.