Business Discourse is a useful blend of factual information and ideas, with some clear indications of how research in this field is developing. Research methodologies, frameworks and possible projects blend with case studies in a range of international situations. The book is the latest in a series on research and practice in applied linguistics, edited by Christopher Candlin and David Hall.
Business English is scrutinised, and shown to be dynamic, action-oriented and non-emotive. It would be interesting to study deliberate prevarication or techniques used to bury bad news or make financial situations appear more secure than they are. But the projects listed here are based on real companies and use genuine dialogue, so there could be practical difficulties in in-depth studies of more controversial areas.
Theory and practice are covered, with one section comparing the approaches of academics and of practitioners. It is perhaps not surprising that the former tend to look at process, while the latter concentrate more on outcomes.
The content is up to date and forward looking. It reconsiders the question of gender, where views are not perhaps as clear cut as they were a decade ago, and reports on the language strategies used by call centres.
Familiar topics are covered, such as the effect of national stereotypes on expectation, strategies employed in meetings and the problems that can arise between contrasting cultures. There are also intriguing insights into misunderstandings between neighbours, with a study of a merger by Finnish and Swedish companies.
Discussion goes further, looking at the effect of using a lingua franca, where neither side is operating in its mother tongue.
Another area where additional study would be useful is the move away from national stereotypes and the realisation that in a globalised world there will be a steady growth in multiple cultural identities, based on family background, upbringing, education, career moves and travel.
This book is not a training manual in business discourse or improving communication techniques. However, it will undoubtedly provide opportunities for updating a syllabus or finding more information on a topic of growing importance.
Who is it for? Students, researchers and practitioners with some background in applied linguistics and/or business communication.
Presentation: It is laid out in a clear style with charts and profiles of key researchers, interspersed with quotations and sets of highlighted data. A useful list of resources is provided, ranging from books and journals to e-mail lists and bulletin boards, though it would have been helpful to have included in the index the names of the many authors referred to in the text.
Would you recommend it? Yes.
Tim Connell is director of language studies at City University London.
Business Discourse. First Edition
Author - Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, Catherine Nickerson and Brigitte Planken
Publisher - Palgrave Macmillan
Pages - 296
Price - £60.00 and £19.99
ISBN - 9781403935755 and 5762