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ASp 81, November 2022: ESP and Linguistics


English for specific purposes (ESP) scholars have been exploring a wide range of linguistic features associated with the specialised varieties of English. It is therefore reasonable to say that grammar and linguistics have always been a key area of interest in the domain. For example, in a seminal article entitled “Some measurable characteristics of modern scientific prose”, Charles L. Barber (1962) proposed a descriptive grammar founded on a relatively small corpus of technical and research articles.

Since then, diverse linguistic currents in France and abroad have inspired many ESP scholars. In France, some scholars have used Antoine Culioli’s théorie des opérations énonciatives or have worked within the framework of “textual linguistics” (linguistique textuelle). Similarly, and more internationally, scholars have used systemic functional linguistics (SFL), sociolinguistics, applied linguistics or corpus linguistics to analyse the specialised varieties of the English language. It is interesting to note, however, that some linguistic paradigms such as Chomsky’s generative grammar have received little attention in ESP studies, at least apparently.

These linguistic approaches have uncovered many kinds of phenomena such as how grammatical features tend to relate to specialisation degrees (Pic & Furmaniak 2014), how syntax and rhetorical functions will correlate with specialised texts (Carter-Thomas & Rowley-Jolivet 2014), how scientific writing is marked by grammatical complexity (Biber et al. 2020), or how linguistic approaches may lead to epistemological considerations about ESP (Gledhill & Kübler 2016).

The contributions may include – among other approaches:

  • Epistemological considerations: how do linguistics and ESP exactly relate? Is linguistics a mere analytical tool, a theoretical framework or a heuristic instrument? Are some linguistic approaches more particularly recommended for dealing with specialised varieties of English?

  • ESP and theoretical paradigms in ESP: Systemic Functional Linguistics has been used extensively in many studies and they are naturally welcome in this issue. However, scholars from various theoretical backgrounds are also invited to provide their own insights into ESP.

  • ESP and the branches of linguistics: Lexicology and syntax studies have already yielded many results in ESP and they are naturally welcome in this issue. However, scholars from the other branches of linguistics – e.g., phonetics, phonology, semantics, sociolinguistics, formal linguistics, applied linguistics) are also encouraged to venture into those aspects of ESP which have remained rather unexplored so far.

  • Grammar: Can we or should we use the term “specialised grammar”? To what extent is grammar sensitive to the contexts of use? May any prescriptive grammar be considered for ESP students?

  • Lexis: How can specialised domains be studied from a lexicological viewpoint?

  • Metaphors: How may cognitive linguistics contribute to ESP?

  • ESP and corpus linguistics: How can the two disciplines be jointly used to address issues in phraseology and semantic prosody?

Important Dates

Call for contributions: 6 April 2021

Submissions accepted until 15 May 2022

Issue to be published in November 2022

Please send your manuscript to

The author’s guidelines may be retrieved from the journal’s website <>.


Barber, C.- L. 1962. Some measurable characteristics of modern scientific prose. In F. Behre & U. Ohlander (eds), Contributions to English Syntax and Phonology. Gothenburg Studies in Linguistics 14. Stockholm: Almquist and Wiksell, 21-43.

Biber, Douglas, B. Gray, S. Staples, & J. Egbert. 2020. Investigating grammatical complexity in L2 English writing research: Linguistic description versus predictive measurement. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 46, <>.

Carter-Thomas S. & E. Rowley-Jolivet. 2014. A syntactic perspective on rhetorical purpose: The example of if-conditionals in medical editorials. Ibérica 28, 59-82.

Gledhill C., N. Kübler. 2016. What can linguistic approaches bring to English for Specific Purposes? ASp. 69, 65-95,

Pic, E., & G. Furmaniak. 2014. Impact du lectorat visé sur la grammaire. ASp 65, 69-86.

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