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The Language Factor in International Business

New Perspectives on Research, Teaching and Practice


Edited By Sylvain Dieltjens, Paul Gillaerts, Priscilla Heynderickx, Geert Jacobs and Elizabeth de Groot

This volume aims to explore what the field of business communication has accomplished so far and where it is heading. In addition to presenting new research, a number of the contributions included address the question of how business communication scholarship may be relevant to education and practice. While the multidimensional nature of the field does not allow a single answer to that question, the contributors generally agree that the ‘language factor’ in international business is an intriguing mix of communicative skills that are receiving increased attention across disciplines. The contributions deal with a wide spectrum of business settings, including leadership and management situations, gatekeeping encounters in a variety of organizations and through a range of media and cultures, oral interaction in the workplace, marketing and PR discourse, on-line communication, management, organizational and corporate communication, and, finally, global aspects of integrated marketing communications. Methodologically, it includes a broad range of approaches, including work in discourse analysis and ethno-methodology, rhetoric and document design, intercultural pragmatics and writing studies, genre analysis, e-semantics and sociolinguistics.


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Section 5: The ‘Grammar’ of Business Communication


DIANE GOOSSENS1 / SYLVIE DE COCK Around Numbers: Combinations of Approximators and Numbers in Business News Reporting and in Academic Business English 1. Introduction The expression of quantity is one of the key elements in business dis- course. It has, however, received little attention in linguistic studies focusing on business discourse2. Quantity can be expressed in a varie- ty of ways: in a precise or imprecise/vague manner; using numbers, nouns (e.g. majority), adjectives (e.g. a large amount) or quantifiers (e.g. many) for example. The focus of this chapter is on comparing approximations involving numbers (e.g. around 60) in two written business genres3: business news reporting, on the one hand, and aca- demic business English4, on the other hand. After a brief review of the literature on the approximation of quantity (Section 2), Sections 3 and 4 provide a description of the data and corpus-driven method used in the present study. The discussion of the results in Section 5 centers around three main research questions which focus on the frequency of number approximations in the two business genres under study, on the 1 Diane Goossens acknowledges the support of the Fonds Spécial de Recherche (FSR, Université catholique de Louvain), which funds the research project within which she is currently completing her PhD thesis. 2 In this study, we concentrate on what Nelson (2000) refers to as ‘language used for writing about business’. 3 In this chapter ‘genres’ are defined as “staged, structured, communicative events, motivated by various communicative purposes, and...

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