Cognitive approaches to the study of term variation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter presents a cognitive approach to research on terminological variation, which posits that term variation is cognitively motivated, since it reflects differences on how specialized concepts are categorized by different individuals in different contexts. Firstly, an overview is given of the theoretical principles that focus on the flexible nature of specialized knowledge categorization and naming. Secondly, we present a classification of the cognitive factors of term variation, which differentiates between systemic and contextual factors. Thirdly, we report the results of a study on the cognitive function of term variation, which indicate that term variation is used as a cognitive strategy to transfer specialized knowledge, but also to avoid repetition, accommodate the text to the audience, or generalize.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheoretical Perspectives on Terminology
Subtitle of host publicationExplaining terms, concepts and specialized knowledge
EditorsPamela Faber, Marie-Claude L'Homme
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789027257789
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameTerminology and Lexicography Research and Practice
ISSN (Print)1388-8455


  • cognitive factors of variation
  • cognitive function of variation
  • conceptual categorization
  • intra-textual term variation
  • specialized knowledge structuring
  • term variation


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