Business Studies - Specialised vocabulary research and the professions

Vocabulary and English for Specific Purposes Research - Averil Coxhead 2018

Business Studies
Specialised vocabulary research and the professions

Business vocabulary has been investigated in a range of studies, primarily through corpus analysis and focusing on word list development. Nelson (2000, n.d.) gathered texts for his corpora on ’writing about business’, including for example, business books, journals, and articles, and ’writing to do’ business, drawing on annual reports, faxes, and letters. Mirror spoken corpora were gathered: ’talking about business’, containing interviews and business reports on radio and TV and ’speaking to do business’, including texts from meetings, speeches and presentations. Nelson carried out a keyword analysis using a smaller version of the BNC. Table 7.2 shows examples from Nelson’s categorisations of nouns for people, companies, business activities, money and finance, and ’things’. These words were found more often in the Business corpora than the BNC corpus. The categorisation was based on a computer analysis and Nelson’s own intuition as an experienced teacher of Business English.

These kinds of categorisation can help language learners and teachers identify the kinds of nouns which are common in Business English. These words cut across high, mid, and low frequency profiles and include abbreviations and acronyms. Nelson (n.d.) also categorises verbs from his keyword analysis, such as invest, restructure, underwrite, compete and merge as verbs related to work and business, as well as personal and interpersonal verbs such as announce, relate, motivate, inform and propose. Like Nelson, Crawford Camiciottoli (2007) categorised the 174 technical words she identified in her corpus of Business Studies Lectures Corpus. For example, in the categories of business activities and economic trends, the technical words include failing and deal, and price and cost were categorised as common technical words in the area of increasing business performance.

Table 7.2 Ten examples from Nelson’s (n.d.) keyword categorisations of Business nouns

Konstantakis (2007) developed a Business Word List by drawing on part of Nelson’s (2000) corpora. Konstantakis (2007) used the Business English textbook corpus of 33 course books (approximately 600,000 words) to identify lexis outside the first 2,000 word families of West GSL (1953) and Coxhead’s AWL (2000). Through a process of refinement and categorisation of abbreviations, acronyms and proper nouns, the final word list of 560 word families covered 2.79% of the corpus. Examples from this list Konstantakis (2007, p. 98) include telefax, television, telex, tennis, terrific, territory, textiles, prawns, preferably, premises, price-list and printer.

Browne and Culligan (2016) developed a Business Service List using a 64.5-million-word business corpus, which contained texts from the BNC, textbooks, newspapers, journals and websites. Their list contains approximately 1,700 high frequency general business English words. The word list is available for downloading in a range of formats for teaching and research, including lemmatised and frequency versions, as well as ready-made versions to be used for analysis on Ant Word (Anthony, 2016) and Lex Tutor (Cobb, n.d.). Table 7.3 shows the top-20 items in the Business Service List by Browne and Cullligan (2016). Note the range of items from everyday vocabulary through to more specialised lexis. Nelson (2000) and Scott and Tribble (2006) make the point that business English contains a great deal of general English, with some business terms making up a smaller amount of the text. This point is true of other areas of specialisation as well (Nation, 2016, 2013).

Table 7.3 Top 20 Business Service list words (Browne & Culligan, 2016)

Tangpijaikul (2014) investigates English for Business and Economic News in the Thai context. The researcher developed an 890,000-word corpus of business and economic news, arguing that, ’Financial English words that are frequently used in business and economic news are important for business people, traders and economists’ (p. 52). This study involved both a quantitative analysis of the corpus with a keyword analysis of the specialised corpus and the BNC and a qualitative rating scale analysis carried out by the researcher, and two experienced managers in Marketing and Finance. Tangpijaikul (2014) finds 134 words were agreed upon through the analyses as being technical for business and economic news, including items such as bancassurance, brokerage, capitalisation, demutualisation, populist, shareholder, surge, venture and waiver (p. 65).