Interlingual varieties in written business communication: intercultural differences in German and French business letters
Nadine Rentel (University of Besançon, Department of German Language and Literature) [BIO]
The domain of intercultural business communication requires profound knowledge of the linguistic and cultural background of the persons involved in the communication process. This knowledge goes far beyond having a good command of the grammatical and lexical structures of a foreign language. Often the risk of misunderstandings due to culture-specific text conventions are hidden by the fact that one employs the same language for intercultural communication purposes.
The specific cultural background is reflected on all levels of a text: its structure and the strategies of argumentation are only two examples. Only a few contrastive, empirical analyses for the language pair German-French that are based on a large corpus of business letters have been carried out.
The paper aims at closing this gap by analyzing the formal characteristics, the text structure, i.e. the type and sequence of text parts, and the linguistic means used to realize central pragmatical speech acts (for example requesting, expressing one’s thanks, announcing negative consequences) in German and French business letters in their cultural specifity. In this context, the focus is laid on the structure and the stylistic means of the letters. The empirical analysis is based on a corpus containing 128 business letters written between 1998 and 2000 in German and French companies.