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Global Interactions in English as a Lingua Franca

How written communication is changing under the influence of electronic media and new contexts of use


Franca Poppi

This volume investigates the changes undergone by written communication in our globalized world as English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). The latter usually functions as a language for communication purposes, but also becomes a language for identification purposes. The study takes into account different web-genres: from the replication of existing genres in other media to cybergenres, whose key evolutionary force is the progressive exploitation of the new functionalities afforded by the new medium. The variety of the contexts of use has made it possible to consider different ELF-using communities of practice, whose members adopt ELF and adapt it to express individual, national and professional identities in international interactions. The analysis focuses on lexicogrammatical innovations, which inevitably change in accordance with the different contexts of use, as well as on the communicative strategies underpinning these changes.


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Part Two: Communicating in BELF


125 Part Two Communicating in BELF 126 127 VI. Communicating in Business Contexts As a consequence of globalization and the resulting wave of interna- tional mergers and acquisitions, which have prompted the emergence of new types of company networks and partnerships, the members and employees of ‘modern’ corporations have been led to use En- glish professionally in a business context which is no longer national, but rather international and intercultural, as shown by Harris and Bargiela-Chiappini’s model: Figure 1. Cross-/intercultural business discourse (Harris/Bargiela-Chiappini 1997: 14). All the components of this model interact in dynamic and interesting ways, shaping business discourse. In the first place, individual lan- guage systems encode reality in different ways, as “language is not a neutral vehicle” (Hofstede 1993: 87). This means that interlocutors are not led by the same picture of the universe (Fishman 1974: 65). 128 Therefore, even though the interactants coming from different lin- gua-cultural backgrounds may choose a common code, this is bound to undergo the influence of the local L1s of its users, to a lesser or greater degree, depending on the addresser’s intended communica- tive purpose, as well as the influence of the corporate and national culture(s) involved. Nowadays, English represents the unique means available for interacting not only with the ‘outside world’, but also inside the same company. Indeed, as one manager said, English is the chosen lan- guage of business and commerce because “it puts us all at an equal disadvantage” (cited in Bryson 1990: 2). Arguably, more...

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