Discursive-Cognitive Features Of The English-Speaking Economic Discourse


The article proposes the use of discursive-cognitive method of analysis of the English economic discourse in determining the communicative and cognitive scope of economy within international English speaking communication. This method defines discursive and cognitive characteristics of the given discourse. It proves that communicative-cognitive scope of economic discourse faces the necessity of carrying out the detailed analysis of the specific features of the economic text. As the findings of the study suggest, English economic discourse, being a complex phenomenon, and taking into account the discursive characteristics, can be divided into three types: 1) on the institutional basis: discourse in the field of commercial activity, insurance, banking, management; marketing, accounting and auditing, securities and exchange activities, etc.; 2) personal-institutional discourse: the discourse of the layman in the conversation on the economic topic and the head of the firm; 3) on the basis of genre: discourse of a newspaper article on an economic topic of the dissertation in Economics, research article, textbook, or textbook on Economics, etc. From the point of view of cognitive characteristics, seven specific characteristics are distinguished. Discursive forms of content and cognitive constituent of a discursive-cognitive paradigm of economic texts are defined as well as the synthesis of both discursive and cognitive approaches in English economic discourse.

Keywords: Keywords DiscourseEnglish-speaking economic discoursecognitive paradigmdiscursive-cognitive methodinstitutional discoursecognitive space of economy


Discourse as an ambiguous notion

Nowadays in contemporary linguistics the notion of a “discourse” is known to be hardy defined, an ambiguous, with shifting linguistic priorities phenomenon. Nevertheless, it appeals to many investigations and various interpretations of its understanding, methods and approaches. But these factors are believed to have led this notion to become widely spread and popular.

The phenomenon of discourse is known to draw attention of philosophy, literary criticism, semiotics, social psychology as well as linguistics, namely, cognitive linguistics, cultural linguistics, psycholinguistics etc. Today at the modern stage of language studies there are different approaches considering this notion: analytical approaches (grammatical, pragmatic, rhetorical, stylistic, specific, conversational and semiotic analyses). They are supposed to make use of general methods of sociological sciences like observation, ethnography an experiments. On the other hand there are approaches which are to specify the difference between semantics and pragmatics of a sign. They are called cognitive-discursive and communicative-discursive (Bazarova, Gataullina, 2014, p.210). Communicative-discursive approach for instance presumes a discourse as “a complex communicative phenomenon proceeding between sender, recipient during the act of communication in a definite time, space and other context” (Bazarova, et al. p.210).

As for a cognitive (or psychological) study of discourse it is said to be rather different from a more formal, grammatical analysis. It deals with the actual mental representations and processes of language users. As T. van Dijk notes, “discourse has a special function in the expression, implementation and especially the reproduction of ideologies, since it is only through language use, discourse or communication (or other semiotic practices) that they can be explicitly formulated. This is essential in contexts of acquisition, argumentation, ideological conflict, persuasion and other processes in the formation and change of ideologies” (Van Dijk, 1998, p. 317). With reference to a cognitive analysis, it analyzes those properties of discourse that are accounted for in terms of cognitive concepts, such as various types of mental representation. So, to understand the processes of actual discourse comprehension or production, one should do a study of the cognitive aspects of communication which is highly relevant and at the same time introduce a discursive approach which enables to explore the construction of meanings in human interaction.

Problem Statement

There is no doubt that the scope of economics as a science is a special world with its own special rules, its special terminology, and it should have its own specific discourse – economic discourse. English economic discourse is becoming more and more popular as a topical area of linguistic research. Discourse is studied in many branches of human knowledge, and there are different interpretations of this notion resulting in different understandings and definitions. Many researchers emphasize the dynamic properties of discourse. Discourse helps to make a predicative connection between the world and the direct expression of this connection via language. The aim of discursive research is to understand the functioning of a language as a reflection of mental processes, communicative perspective and statements containing cohesion and coherence (Aleksandrova, Mendzheritskaya & Malakhova, 2017, pp.102-103).

For the purpose of this article, English economic discourse (EED) as a type of institutional discourse is supposed to be analyzed by applying the discursive-cognitive paradigm to find out the peculiarities of the formation of this type of discourse, affecting not only the choice of certain language means (during the process of nominating), but also the cognitive processes involved in its formation. At the same time, the complexity of the description of the main characteristics of the economic discourse is closely related to both cognitive science and the solution of problems of communicative intention.

Research Questions

Discourse, in general, refers to the use of language as a part of a social practice. This article clearly identifies the features influencing the discursive plan of content and cognitive component of English economic discourse. With intention of analyzing English economic discourse thoroughly the usage of synthesis of both approaches has becomes absolutely significant. Undoubtedly, the discursive-cognitive paradigm has changed the common strategy of the text research, but as N. D. Arutjunova stresses, “the change of the scientific paradigm is always accompanied by changing of the key metaphor, introducing a new area of assimilations, a new analogy” (Arutjunova, 1990, pp.136-137). Approaches to the study the discourse by cognitive analysis can vary significantly depending on the theories, methods, schools, as well as the individuality of scientists. As Y. S. Stepanov pointed out, “discourse exists primarily and mainly in the texts, but in those which have a special grammar, a special lexicon, special rules of usage and syntax, special semantics, a special world at last” (Arutjunova, 1995, p. 44).

Purpose of the Study

The aim of this work is to specify the discursive and cognitive features of English economic discourse as a complex and multi-aspect phenomenon in terms of modern linguistic concepts and of cognitive-discursive paradigm as well as in the aspect of international English-speaking communication. The topic seems to be understudied and is extremely important due to the special status of a discourse in general, and English economic discourse in particularly.

Research Methods

The tasks of this article determine the choice of the following methods of analysis: cognitive-discursive analysis, discursive analysis, text analysis, content analysis, method of cognitive analysis of discourse, textual, contextual analysis. It should be noted that the study of the text was replaced by a dynamic approach, by the study of the functional and cognitive aspects of the text and its semantics.


Economics as a science is the area of our knowledge of the world where the basic interests of the individual, the society and the ethnos are especially clearly manifested, where changes in the public consciousness, the mentality of native speakers are very noticeable as well as active linguistic dynamics. Economic relations today, being a core of production relations, form the content of other social relations and in this function act as a system-forming factor of society.

Economics and economic theory are in synergy and influence each other. Economics is the subject of economic study. Economic theory reflects the effect of objective laws of economic life. In order to identify these laws, it is not enough just to observe and describe these phenomena.

“Today, researches in the field of institutional discourse are closely related to the economy. Institutional economic discourse is a special display of processes occurring in modern society. It focuses our attention on the formation, manifestation, development of trade and market relations, as a distinctive means to understand the economic realities taking place both within a single community (enterprises, companies, groups of companies), and beyond (the sphere of economic communication within one nation or several in their interaction)” (Kadymova, 2013, p.53).

It should be noted that the essence of discourse cannot be explained only by the action of cognitive mechanisms, and communication processes are also involved. Most modern linguists understand discourse not only as a result of communication, but as a speech behavior. It is considered to be a process of implementation of speech intentions of the speaker and their interpretation by listeners in a specific speech situation, in other words by communicative function of the language. They distinguish two main types of discourse: personal and institutional. In the first one, the speaker acts as a person, demonstrating all his individual characteristics and features. In the second one, the speaker acts as a representative of a certain social institution and of a certain social status. This determines to fulfill the established status-role and situational-communicative norms.

According to O. V. Magerovskaya, “a cognitive approach in discourse study seems to be based on the following theoretical statements: 1) discursive activity is an important, separate and specific type of human activity. At the same time, it is an integral, concomitant component of other human activities. Consequently, discursive activity is the essence of a person; 2) the ratio of “discourse – cognition” is dichotomous. Being closely connected with human activity and acting as its product, discourse is inseparable from human cognition” (Magerovskaya , 2014, p.151). And it is difficult to disagree with this, because this ratio is extremely complex and various phenomenon.

So, V. I. Chernyavskaya, for example, suggests to consider the discourse as “a certain communicative event, related to specific pragmatic and mental conditions of creation and perception of the message and specific models of text formation – text types” (Chernyavskaya, 2012, p. 19). “Discourse in one of its possible understandings refers to the text in inseparable connection with the situational context defining all that is essential for the creation of this statement/text, in connection with the system of communicative-pragmatic and cognitive purposes of the author interacting with the addressee. In this sense, discourse characterizes the communicative process leading to the formation of a certain structure of the text”; “a certain communicative event being fixed in written texts and speech, carrying out in a certain communicative space cognitively and typologically conditioned” (Chernyavskaya, 2012, p. 143). She also states that it is a set of thematically related texts. …The content (theme) of the discourse is revealed not by one separate text, but by the complex interaction of many separate texts – intertextually (Chernyavskaya, 2012, p. 144).

No one can be objective in their point of view. Inevitably, we all see things to some extent subjectively. Moreover, “each author tries to make his own contribution to formulate the object studied. Nevertheless, there are no objections to the allocation of economic discourse as one of the main types of institutional discourse: as the economy penetrates all aspects of modern life, it has become homo ekonomikus itself” (Valkovsky, 2013, p. 94). The Russian scholar M. I. Stepanova notes that “... discourse is based on three main elements: the process of communication, which includes participants with their cognitive intentions, the context (verbal, situational or more broadly cultural) in which communication takes place, and the text created in the process of communication” (Stepanova, 2009, p. 232).

T. A. Evtushina and N. A. Kovalska consider “economic discourse as a complex communicative and speech phenomenon, which is, on the one hand, a kind of social communication, based on speech activity, reflecting both the conceptualization of economic realities and extralinguistic, pragmatic, socio-cultural, psychological, cognitive and other factors essential for the interaction of people and the mechanisms of their consciousness. On the other hand, economic discourse is “a set of economic texts united by a common theme and aimed at the realization of a certain goal. Detailed analysis of the English-language economic discourse gives opportunities for a new perception of the economy through the interpretation of its texts” (Evtushina, Kovalska, 2014, p. 44).

Among the main characteristics of a discourse, scholars have identified the following: the subject area, purpose, language means and acts, cognitive mechanisms, specificity of texts, specific contexts of implementation, the characteristics of communicative situations. Most countries are becoming more and more dependent on international trade every day, and English, primarily, acts as a common language necessary for doing business around the world. Today English is known to be the international language of business. A higher level of English brings significant benefits to economies all over the world. English language acquisition correlates with a number of economic indicators, including gross domestic product and gross national income per capita. With its help companies from a wide range of countries can negotiate easily and draw up important documents. Business English can be defined as the language required for every day application in the business environment: to communicate with colleagues, clients, customers or with public in writing, orally and by phone.  It is focused on the particular needs of business.

“Business speech, on the other hand, has been defined by Dhooge as a speech delivered in the fields of business, economy, or commerce. However, Dhooge argues that the objective of a business or commercial speech can be as narrow and specific as proposing an economic transaction or as broad as government economic interests” (Imani, Aliakbar & Habil, 2015, p. 7).

The business language has its own features: the use of business vocabulary, formal style of writing and speaking, the use of clichés, established expressions, the Protocol of many genres (for example, business writing, negotiations, etc.). If you speak business English, you should recognize the specific situations of business communication, use the required vocabulary and structure of utterances. Typical for the English business language is that each certain sphere of economics has its own characteristics of speech and its own specificity. As a result, from the point of view of the discursive-cognitive paradigm the study of the English-speaking economic discourse in international communication is relevant and requires a detailed consideration of all its characteristics as one of the most important types of discourse.

English economic discourse is bound to have all the characteristics of institutionality. This is, in particular, the status-oriented communication of unequal participants of communication like a manager and a subordinate within a certain institution, based on a given pattern and usually formal. EED can be implemented both orally and in writing form, be monological (public speech, report) and dialogic (press conference, meeting), contact (direct communication) and distant (communication by phone, correspondence), real and virtual (communication by e-mail, blogs, etc.), their special forms, properties manifested in a given situation of communication. Nevertheless, various types of economic texts have formal and functional commonalities as a communication both between the enterprises in the form of business letters, telephone conversations, invoices, contracts, negotiations, advertising leaflets, etc., and inside the enterprise in the form of reports, statistics, circular letters, conferences, meetings, etc.), as well as current information in the form of monographs, textbooks, instructions, etc.), and relevant information in the form of newspapers, magazines, news from Chambers of Commerce, economic news over radio and television, advertising texts, annual reports, etc.

As V.I. Chernyavskaya notes, “in practice to study different types of discourse (or discursive formations, in the terminology of a number of researchers) there is a division of the overall sphere of communication into more fractional segments. The main and fundamental difference from the traditions of functional stylistics should be seen in the fact that this or that "section" of communication with which discourse correlates and which determines the special consistency and order of language units and the rules of their usage in separate statements / texts as the fragments of one discourse is considered to be of a heuristic value, i.e. established experimentally” (Chernyavskaya, 2001, p. 12).


As the findings of the study suggest, English economic discourse, being a complex phenomenon, and taking into account the discursive characteristics, can be divided into three types: 1) on the institutional basis: discourse in the field of commercial activity, insurance, banking, management; marketing, accounting and auditing, securities and exchange activities, etc.; 2) personal-institutional discourse: the discourse of the layman in the conversation on the economic topic and the head of the firm; 3) on the basis of genre: discourse of a newspaper article on an economic topic of the dissertation in Economics, research article, textbook, or textbook on Economics, etc.

From the point of view of cognitive characteristics, in which the cognitive information of the economy as a scientific discipline is clearly displayed, the following characteristics can be distinguished in the English-language economic discourse: 1) availability of different formulations proposed by different authors in the definition of the same concept and offering different forms of its linguistic design; 2) the presence of terminological doublets, caused by both the peculiarities of the terminology language of the economy, and the peculiarities of the internal resources of the English language (the existence of the British and American versions of English); 3) the presence of terms in texts creates difficulties in adequate perception of them by non-native speakers, as “terminological meaning” is not identical to “ lexical meaning of the word”; 4) the presence of linguistic and terminological variations in nominating economic concepts in one context; 5) the presence of a cognitive metaphor, reflecting a number of basic concepts and categories of economic science, created to indicate the special realities in professional communication; 6) the presence of compression of multi-component units aimed at optimizing scientific communication, etc.; 7) influence of the national mentality on the name of the concepts and concepts of the economic sphere of activity(Zelentsova, Kozlova, 2017, pp. 174;180-181).

It should be noted that, of all human activities, the economy has undergone the most fundamental restructuring in recent decades. It is noteworthy that in any society, the economic system is one of the most dynamic and innovative forms of social consciousness. The conceptual space of economic activity and economic concepts is mobile, and it responds sensitively to information coming from outside through different channels and changes as a result of the assimilation and processing of this information by a person. So, it is extremely important to be aware of sequencing cognitive features of a source text and a target one ensuring their conceptual and semantic identity in the sphere of economics. At the same time to achieve the pragmatic effect one should take into account also the specific discursive characteristics specified in each particular type of discourse.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Zelentsova, M. (2018). Discursive-Cognitive Features Of The English-Speaking Economic Discourse. In I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 776-782). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.04.02.111