Introduction - Vocabulary in the trades

Vocabulary and English for Specific Purposes Research - Averil Coxhead 2018

Vocabulary in the trades

This chapter reports on a major research collaboration to investigate language use in the trades, an under-researched area in terms of specific purposes and vocabulary research. The LATTE project in Aotearoa/New Zealand is based at Victoria University of Wellington and Wellington Institute of Technology (Weltec). The context for this study is campus in urban Wellington with a diverse ethnic group of students, including just over 50% Pakeha (NZ European), 14% NZ Māori, 15% Asian, 10%

Pacific and small numbers of European and other ethnicities (Parkinson & Mackay, 2016, p. 37). The majority of the students in the trades are male. The Pasifika students tend to be bilingual and have a separate stream in Carpentry for cultural and linguistic support (Parkinson & Mackay, 2016). There is a focus on practical education in this context, which means that classes have a very hands-on, talk-based flavour. Students in the Carpentry programme build a house in the course of their studies.

The chapter begins with a discussion of the importance of the trades as an area of vocabulary research in ESP. An overview of the LATTE project, which focuses on four trades, Automotive Engineering, Fabrication, Carpentry and Plumbing, follows. This project involves both quantitative analysis using corpora and qualitative data in the form of interviews, observations and case studies. The corpus-based research looks at lexical analyses of both professional writing in all four trades, and a section on the spoken corpus for the LATTE project. The data analysis for the spoken corpus was not complete at the time of writing this chapter, and so this section is quite brief. Next, each of the trades illustrates a different element of specialised vocabulary in turn, beginning with the two construction trades, Carpentry and Plumbing. The Carpentry section focuses on qualitative data from student questionnaires about specialised vocabulary in this trade, quantitative analyses of vocabulary use in student writing in the form of Builders’ Diaries and interview data about the use of the diaries for specialised vocabulary learning and recording. Plumbing is the trade in the next section of the chapter, and the focus for this trade is on using experts to identify specialised vocabulary for developing word lists. The Engineering trades follow, with Automotive Engineering focusing on developing a word list by corpus analysis alone. The section on Fabrication (Welding) focuses on abbreviations in this trade. The chapter ends with a discussion of the limitations of research in vocabulary in the trades research.