In the sixteenth century knowledge was considered to be synonymous with power. In the twenty-first century it is rather the quick and efficient retrieval and exchange of knowledge that provides parties with an edge in transactions, especially those of a business nature. Electronic media already create the required conditions for a rapid sharing of business-related information. However, it is also necessary to help the interactants involved in the communication process themselves to better understand the complex workings of how people relate to each other across international and intercultural boundaries. In fact, interactants may not be fully aware of the direct and indirect implications of the way they structure the information they want to convey. They may feel unsure of how to shape their message, especially in the light of the ‘winds’ of genre variability brought about by the combination of new communicative needs (the necessity to exchange information as quickly as possible) and new forms of communication (the widespread use of Computer Mediated Communication), The objective of the present contribution is to show how a greater awareness of the language strategies that business practitioners employ may contribute to their creative empowerment and therefore make them more efficient and effective communicators. For the purpose of the present study, the materials were supplied by donors from Italian business companies who provided different sets of documents classified respectively as ‘business letters’ and ‘e-mails’. The resulting corpora consisted of respectively 100 and 200 items . Based on the evidence provided by these corpora it will be shown how the generic resources of business letters are being recontextualized and in the process lead to different types of emails. The analysis integrates linguistic and social aspects in the context of professional practice and focuses on the most relied upon and successfully employed lexico-grammatical choices and rhetorical structures with a view to establishing whether the socially shared generic norms change according to the medium employed or to any other element. The obtained results show that - even though the medium can influence the message due to expectations in terms of formal constraints and unmarked conventions – the identification of features which make an ‘e-mail’ an ‘e-mail’ and a ‘business letter’ a ‘business letter’ involve more than structural characteristics and style of language alone. Therefore, there is no a priori reason for banning the use of distinctively polite phraseology in emails, as some experts might recommend. Indeed, in business communication, the boundaries and expectations of the genre are often overruled by inventiveness and creativity and by the specificity of the writer’s intentions and the relationship with the intended audience. The evidence gathered, it is believed, will help practitioners raise their awareness of how it is possible to start out from one genre but ultimately create another. In the end, it will also help them shape their own communication forms more efficiently and effectively. By making them sensitive to the existence of different available options, depending on their own agendas, rather than having them concentrate on the chosen genre, they may improve their effectiveness. This is exemplified, for instance, by the possibility of choosing between emails which simply draw on the generic potential of business letters on the one hand and emails which expand rather than draw on the established conventions in order to create a novel construct, on the other hand.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2016|
|Titolo:||From Business Letters to Emails: How Practitioners Can Shape Their Own Forms of Communication More Efficiently|
|Titolo del libro:||The Ins and Outs of Business and Professional Discourse Research. Reflections on Interacting with the Workplace|
|Tutti i curatori:||Alessi, Glen Michael; Jacobs, Geert|
|Nome editore:||Palgrave Macmillan|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Capitolo/Saggio|
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