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N° 11 – Lexis in languages for specific purposes (LSP)

Deadline for sending in final versions of papers: February 2018

The e-journal Lexis is planning to publish its 11th issue, devoted to the “Lexis in Languages for Specific Purposes (LSP)”, in 2018.

Co-editors: Marion Charret-Del Bove and Philippe Millot (University of Lyon - Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France).

Lexis in Languages for specific purposes (LSP)

Contrary to what one may believe, the articulation between the notion of “lexis” and that of “language for specific purposes” is far from obvious. From a general point of view, lexis is part of the language considered as a system. For generativists, lexis is one of the elements of the basic component of grammar [Dubois et al. 2002: 283] and the same is true for specialists in systemic functional linguistics, for whom lexis is one aspect of the lexicon-grammar system that contributes to the potential signifier of a language [Halliday & Matthiessen 2004]. In this framework, lexical units are studied for their relations with the system of language, whether it be semantic relations (synonymy, hyperonymy, antonymy, etc.) or syntagmatic relationships (inflections and degrees of delicacy). In other words, lexis is a concept that is relatively independent of specialised domains in that it includes all the lexical potential of a language regardless of the domain (e.g., law, medicine, business, etc.). Thus, at first glance, the relevance of the concept of lexis to account for a language for specific purposes decreases as the degree of specialisation increases and terminology intensifies. For example, most of the works focusing on English for specific purposes demonstrate that a fundamental demarcation criterion between a specialised variety (e.g., legal English, medical English, business English) and so-called “general” English and within specialised varieties lies at the level of terms. Therefore, and this is the substantive issue this 11th issue of Lexis seeks to address, how is the notion of lexis relevant to the study of the specialised facet of language?

A first possible answer could come from the concept of corpus as a representative sample of a linguistic system, whether it is a language or one of its varieties. As a matter of fact, the corpus and the analytical tools traditionally associated with it make it possible, on a relatively large scale, to sample a language for specific purposes in order to draw, among other elements, comprehensive lists of lexical or lexico-grammatical items that represent the semantic field of a domain. The configuration of this field, in particular through its frequency patterns, its cohesion, i.e. the links that the items maintain among themselves, and more particularly the relations that these items maintain with the terms of a given specialised domain can clearly contribute to the characterisation of a specialised variety.

A second element of response concerns the didactic aim of the lexical or lexico-grammatical analysis of languages for specific purposes. Defined for English by the SAES committee as “the expression of a specialised domain in language” [Commission formation de la SAES 2011: 3], a language for specific purposes potentially has a (specialised) lexis that can be considered as a constitutive element of the lexical competence in a language and as such forms a legitimate object of study for LSP didactics.

The purpose of this Lexis issue is to provide answers to the basic epistemological questions raised by the notion of lexis in languages for specific purposes, while contributing to the exploration of the lexical facet of languages for specific purposes, whatever the domain and whatever the aim (didactic or purely exploratory). A non-exhaustive list of questions could be as follows:

  • To what extent does lexis allow the characterisation of languages for specific purposes?

  • How to extract, then organise, the lexis of a language for specific purposes?

  • How may the study of specialised lexis enable us to account for domains and their evolutions?

  • How does lexis, as a product of a dynamic process of language production [Tournier 1985], allow the identification of new specialised domains?

  • Is it possible to identify borrowing and harmonising processes between languages for specific purposes?

  • For a given specialised domain, what are the phenomena of lexicalisation and appearance of new words (“lexicogenetic productivity” [Duchet and Chaulet 2004]), as well as the processes of derivation (affixation, suffixation) that underlie them?

  • For a given language for specific purposes, how to use the lexis for teaching-learning purposes?


Commission formation de la saes. Evolution et enjeux des formations et de la recherche dans le lecteur LANSAD, 2011 : <>.

Dubois Jean et coll. Dictionnaire de linguistique et des sciences du langage, Larousse, Paris, 1994.

Duchet Jean-Louis et Chaulet Olivier. « Étude de l’affixation dérivationnelle par traitement automatique du lexique juridique canadien », ASp, 43-44, 2004 : 81-98.

Halliday M.A.K. Matthiessen Christian. An introduction to functional grammar, Hodder Education, Londres, 2004.

Tournier Jean. Introduction descriptive à la lexicogénétique de l’anglais contemporain. Paris, Genève : Champion-Slatkine, 1985.

How to submit

Please clearly indicate the title of the paper and include an abstract of no more than 3,000 characters as well as a list of relevant key-words. All abstract and paper submissions will be anonymously peer-reviewed (double-blind peer reviewing) by an international scientific committee composed of specialists in their fields. Papers will be written preferably in English or occasionally in French.

Manuscripts may be rejected, accepted subject to revision, or accepted as such. There is no limit to the number of pages.

Abstracts and articles will be sent via email to


  • March 2017: call for papers

  • July 2017: deadline for sending in abstracts to Lexis

  • September 2017: Evaluation Committee’s decisions notified to authors

  • November 2017: deadline for sending in papers

  • November and December 2017: proofreading of papers by the Evaluation committee

  • December to January 2018: authors’ corrections

  • February 2018: deadline for sending in final versions of papers

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