New Perspectives on Research, Teaching and Practice
Edited By Sylvain Dieltjens, Paul Gillaerts, Priscilla Heynderickx, Geert Jacobs and Elizabeth de Groot
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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