Business - More language and communication matters (Dear Respected Mr Lin, How are you?)

11 important questions on Business - More language and communication matters (Dear Respected Mr Lin, How are you?)

What is vertical internal communication for multinational corporations?

It refers to the information flow between head office and divisions/subsidiaries at different hierarchical levels.

What is horizontal internal communication for multinational corporations?

It refers to the information flow between individuals at the same hierarchical level but in different units or subsidiaries.

What are the advantages of adopting a common corporate language for internal communication?

It offsets the negative effects of language diversity, facilitates communication, coordination and central control, and creates and maintains a shared identity and vision. At a practical level, it reduces the need for translation and incidence of miscommunication and speeds up decision-making and implementation processes.

Why is the use and implementation of a common corporate language often difficult and complex in practice?

The question is which language should be used in internal communication: English or local language? If English, what English?

Which issues emerged (Charles and Marschan-Piekkari, 2002)?

The difficulty of finding a common language where none seemed to exist; comprehension problems due to insufficient translation of documentation into subsidiary languages; difficulty in understanding the various accents in which English was spoken internationally; centralisation of power into the hands of those who were able to obtain and disseminate information through knowing the official corporate language or the parent company language; feeling of isolation in those lacking or with inadequate skills in the corporate language.

What did Nickerson (1998) find?

The needs (or requirements) of one powerful native speaker individual are likely to outweigh the interest of the non-native majority.

What are Charles and Marschan-Pierkkari's (2002) recommendations?

  • Conducting a linguistic audit to find out potential problematic areas in communication and language use;
  • making comprehension proficiency a priority as an interim measure;
  • encouraging staff to understand and negotiate Global English, i.e. different varieties of English, and learn to use a variety of communicative strategies and meta-communicative expressions;
  • including native English speakers in communication training as they also have and cause communication problems;
  • making language and communication training a corporate-level function.

Which external communication issues have implications for intercultural communication?

Language- and culture-specific features associated with the ways in which speech acts such as requests, compliments, disagreement and giving bad news are realised in business activities such as sales letters and emails.

What often leads to different patterns in speech act realisations?

Cross-cultural differences in concern for face, power, social distance, imposition and status.

For external communication, which cross-cultural differences may exist?

How a specific speech act or activity is realised, what rhetorical strategies are preferred, how information is conveyed on websites and how credibility of communication is managed.

For internal communication, which decisions need to be taken into consideration?

Whether to adopt a common corporate language (and which language to choose), the pros and cons of adopting a corporate language as well as practical and contextual constraints.

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