Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

The LexEcon project and the research perspectives in the history of economic thought on the language of economics

Guidi Marco Enrico Luigi, University of Pisa

The paper draws inspiration from another paper circulated in 2021, describing the research project "LexEcon. A transnational and diachronic study of treatises and textbooks of economics (18th to 20th century)", with a twofold objective: (1) to discuss the methodological premises of the research and (2) to illustrate its first findings. Regarding the first objective, the paper illustrates the characteristics of corpus linguistics applied to specialty languages, explains how this method allows a study of the historical evolution of the latter and the contrastive analysis of different linguistic contexts. Moreover, the paper discusses the reasons why this approach can be profitably applied, on the one hand, to the study of the historical evolution of economics and, on the other hand, to the analysis of the transnational pathways of dissemination of this form of knowledge. Finally, it illustrates the reasons that led, as a first approximation, to choose as object of study the treatises and textbooks of economics. With regard to the second objective, the paper focuses on the first stage of the research, dedicated to the construction of a diachronic and multilingual corpus of economic texts in the original language and in translation, presenting some data on the diffusion of treatises and textbooks of economics from 1750 to 1970, on the different textual typologies in which this genre is articulated (scientific treatises, textbooks for universities and schools, popular manuals, university handouts, official speeches and academic lectures, essays on the method of economic science). Finally, the chronoprogram of the research is presented, as well as the scientific events connected to it, for some of which calls for papers open to the entire community of scholars of the history of economic thought are planned.

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Keywords: Economics and Language; Discourse analysis, Corpus linguistics, LexEcon

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