Communication strategies in BELF e-mailing: ‘Only’ a matter of shared understanding?


Research in BELF (English as a Business Lingua Franca) has increasingly focused on pragmatic and sociolinguistic aspects of business communication (Kecskes 2019). In particular, a number of studies has explored the employment of Communication Strategies (CSs) in interactions in the workplace, both in oral communication (Franceschi 2019; Haegeman 2002; Poncini 2004) and in digital written exchanges (Incelli 2013; Ren 2018; Zummo 2018). CSs have mainly been analysed from a perspective of ‘problematicity’ (Bialystok 1990), in that they are usually presented as moves undertaken to repair (Watterson 2008), signal (Cogo, Pitzl 2016), or pre-empt (Mauranen 2006) problems of understanding, with the aim of achieving successful communication (Pitzl 2010). This paper suggests a broadening of the notion of communication strategy in the domain of BELF that includes the achievement of goals other than, or at least complementary to, shared understanding. It does so by analysing some examples from a collection of business e-mails which seem to suggest that there may be other reasons, besides mutual intelligibility, for business partners to employ certain communication strategies. The pedagogical implications of this broadening are also considered, with reference to the findings of current research concerning Business English (BE) teaching material (Vettorel, Franceschi 2020).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v38p241


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