ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics vol:162 pages:1-19
The purpose of this article is to examine whether a “general approach for specific purposes", i.e. a general approach to Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) research, is possible or even desirable. We will briefly review some of the major changes that have taken place in LSP research, and this with a view to situating the five studies that have been included in this special issue of ITL – International Journal of Applied Linguistics. The approach is based on the existing LSP literature, but rather than attempting a comprehensive overview, we will discuss only those trends that may be instrumental in forging a general research agenda for the near future. LSP research has gradually replaced texts as its main object of enquiry in favour of the complex social and discursive practices of a particular discipline. Though the areas covered in this special issue are business, legal and maritime discourse, it is equally interesting to examine how participants “discourse" other professional and even non-professional practices (like recreational team sports). The shift from text to practice, from terminology to communication, has necessitated a principled inter-disciplinary and multi-perspectival stance in terms of both theories and methodologies. In addition, globalisation, technology and other societal forces have affected the dynamics of professional and organisational communication. This article will argue that it is to these trends and developments that the special issue makes a significant contribution. At the same time, it is hoped that our article will open up new possibilities for applied linguistic research and will also stimulate debate on what direction LSP researchers, both experienced practitioners and newcomers, should be moving in.