Recent research on written business discourse has paid growing attention to the effects of new technological developments such as fax or e-mail, often highlighting the conversational nature of e-mail communication, as against traditional written correspondence. The study explores two related issues by comparing small corpora of business e-mails: a) the interplay between interactional and transactional elements in e-mail message exchanges and b) the impact of the frequent opportunity of contact offered by the medium on the generic structures of the messages. The corpora collected represent highly differing ELF (English as a lingua franca) business communication settings – the external correspondence of a small company with a good international network and the internal correspondence of a multinational. The study explores the way in which the two situations create a textual identity for the participants and a sense of ‘community’ among them. This leads to a consideration of genre issues in terms of genre mixing and genre structuring. Starting from an exploration of the identities displayed in the messages, the analysis reveals the positive effects of a tension between the multiple identities that may characterize the interactants. The interplay between professional, corporate and national identity can produce a great variety of combinations. Emphasis on positive interpersonal relations, common interests and shared identities can contribute to successful communications. A potentially threatening cultural gap or conflict of interests can be played down by highlighting other forms of community membership, mostly by creating the idea of a symmetrical belonging to a hyperordinate community. This is the case with the emphasis on a common professional identity in the external communication of the textile company and with the emphasis on a common corporate identity in the internal communication of the packaging multinational. Forms of self representation were found across many different genres and communicative purposes, but they played a key role in informative genres like ‘Office news’ – work-related announcements, the updating of information on personnel and personnel structure. These may both contribute to adding an interactional component to a basically transactional business exchange and constitute the main purpose of an exchange. Conclusions are drawn as to the ways in which the conversational features of e-mail exchanges may influence the nature itself of established genres. Emphasis may be placed on personal and conversational elements in business e-mails, especially in trying to create positive rapport and patterns of solidarity. In general, stylistic practices in e-mail messages reflect an attempt to balance externally generated prescriptions for linguistic style with user-generated coping strategies in constructing discourse (Baron 2003).
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|Data di pubblicazione:||2005|
|Titolo:||"People in Business: the representation of self and multiple identities in business e-mails"|
|Titolo del libro:||Genre variation in Business Letters|
|Nome editore:||Peter Lang|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Capitolo/Saggio|
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