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Evolution in Genre

Emergence, Variation, Multimodality


Paola Evangelisti Allori, John Bateman and Vijay K. Bhatia

The notion of ‘genre’ has established itself as a key concept in many disciplines and fields as a means of describing social action and/or recurring patterns of form. Recent social and technological changes are driving the emergence of new genres, the evolution of traditional ones as well as variation within them. In this volume a range of approaches addressing the evolution of genre are presented. Many draw on corpus analysis of the lexicogrammatical features employed in the communicative artefacts addressed; several extend traditional corpus analysis to include non-linguistic or extra-linguistic features involved in multimodal communication. Connections with social theories are discussed, as is the notion of families or groups of genres co-existing within broader constellations. Genres are examined in detail for their linguistic and non-linguistic realisations and forms of expression across related genres and within the ‘same’ genre when subjected to differing social or medial constraints or possibilities. In all cases, we see how genre continues to function as an effective tool for following communication as it, its contexts of use, and its social functions evolve.
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From Business Letters to E-mails: Balancing Tradition and Change: Franca Poppi



From Business Letters to E-mails: Balancing Tradition and Change


The last few years have witnessed dramatic changes in technology, which, in turn, have forever altered the way information and expertise are disseminated around the globe. Nowadays people and organizations are connected to other people and organizations around the world by means of electronic media, which create the conditions for the rapid sharing of knowledge and information. As a consequence, information has acquired the status of a power tool: the sooner the information is available, the quicker decisions can be made. Organizations have therefore entered an era which is informational, global, and highly networked and ‘electronic propinquity’ has become the new substitute for ‘physical propinquity’ in business contexts (Korzenny 1978), as different companies are increasingly relying on electronic data interchange1 and web-marketing.

In the light of the success of the Internet as a privileged communication medium, it is necessary to reconsider the definitions of the genres associated with internal and external business communication. Indeed, alongside a completely novel set of web-generated genres (Askehave / Ellerup Nielsen 2005: 132), existing genres are also undergoing severe adaptations. ← 191 | 192 →

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