This paper explores the challenges of applying concepts from the "linguistic turn" in the social sciences to Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) theory. We discuss some key consequences for IMP researchers of rethinking their approach to language. This involves an acknowledgement that language has a reality constituting and distorting character. It also affords the realization that when phenomena are couched "in other words", they appear differently to us. We shall argue that this realization allows the inspirational potential of creating, through the use of new language, a new and possibly better understanding of the complexities of business networks. The potentials and practicalities in industrial network scholars accommodating language and communication are discussed in the context of selected approaches from the linguistic turn, such as certain variants of discourse analysis, which offer promising developments for research. We conclude that these potentials may enable IMP researchers to benefit from adopting the metaphysics of change, a process epistemology, the ontology of "becoming" and a more reflexive and intimate engagement with practice. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.