Ivorra Pérez, Francisco Miguel - Cultural values and business correspondence: The case of linguistic politeness

Publicado en Seminario 5 - Discurso y sociedad

Autoría Ivorra Pérez, Francisco Miguel  (Universitat d'Alacant)
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Título Cultural values and business correspondence: The case of linguistic politeness
Sección Seminario 5 - Discurso y sociedad
Resumen The purpose of this paper is to study the way in which the cultural dimension of 'individualism’ (Hofstede, 1991; 2003) influences on the linguistic politeness strategies used by Spanish toy manufacturers to establish a social relationship with their British counterparts by means of their business correspondence. Considering the index of cultural values that Spain and the United Kingdom hold towards the 'individualism’ cultural dimension, following the empirically verified scores obtained by Geert Hofstede (1991; 2003), we will try to achieve three specific aims: (a) to analyse the value placed by Spaniards and Britons on the individualism cultural dimension and how it is reflected in the communicative strategies used to convey linguistic politeness in their business documents, (b) to examine the communicative barriers that Spanish toy manufacturers could face with the British due to their lack of cultural awareness of UK cultural values; and (c) to determine what kind of communicative strategies should be considered appropriate to improve the Spanish business communication in English so that Spanish manufacturers can achieve intercultural competence. If Spaniards and Britons answer with a different index of individualistic cultural values, my hypothesis is that the communication strategies used by Spaniards to transmit linguistic politeness in their business documents written in English would not be appropriate taking into account the possible unawareness that Spanish toy manufacturers may have of the cultural framework of the British society. Therefore, this could lead to the use of linguistic and cultural barriers in their international business negotiations with the British market. A selected sample of 100 business documents written in English from small and medium-sized Spanish toy companies was chosen for the analysis. Then, a qualitative analysis was carried out to examine the main linguistic strategies that Spanish manufacturers use to express linguistic politeness in English. The results obtained in this research reveal that more than half of the Spanish business documents analysed show a pragmatic transfer of linguistic politeness strategies from Spanish into English without taking into account the cultural values that constitute the modus operandi of British people and, what is more relevant, how those values are shown in the linguistic politeness strategies used by the British to establish a social relationship with other people. Due to the interdisciplinarity of the study, we take into account tools from different disciplines, such as: (a) social anthropology (Hofstede, 1991; 2003); (b) language for specific purposes with special attention to the language of business correspondence (Guillén Nieto, 1991, 2004; Geoghenan, et al., 1995; Alcaraz Varó, 2000); and (c) intercultural pragmatics (Blum-Kulka, 1989; Wierzbicka, 1991; Haverkate, 1992; Vázquez Orta, 1995; Scollon & Scollon, 2002; Díaz Pérez, 2003; Guillén Nieto, 2005, 2006, 2009; Hickey & Stewart, 2005).