Doktorarbeit: Verbal Modalities in Corporate Publications

Verbal Modalities in Corporate Publications

A Cross-Cultural Approach

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PHILOLOGIA – Sprachwissenschaftliche Forschungsergebnisse, Band 140

Hamburg , 268 Seiten

ISBN 978-3-8300-4702-5 (Print) |ISBN 978-3-339-04702-1 (eBook)

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In a time of globalization, business corporations have expanded their activities to the global market and communicate with local and global audiences competing with one another in terms of market share, financial investments, brand awareness, and audience trust. As national and corporate cultures meet and compete on various levels of business, a consistent corporate identity and a positive public image can be the crucial factors that decide between success or failure of a business plan.

This study focuses on linguistic practices that take place on the corporate websites of German and American corporations. The main research focus lies on practices of image work and self-portrayal in online corporate self-portrayal texts. In order to analyze this language material, a comprehensive linguistic model of analysis is introduced, the so-called 3-Layer-Model. This model allows a classification of the data within the broader framework of genre analysis by fundamentally relying on the importance of a multi-dimensional approach to the description and interpretation of linguistic features. In addition, the 3-Layer-Model makes the cross-cultural comparison of linguistic practices of corporate image work possible. It incorporates a variational component that covers language-internal variation as well as variation correlated with external factors such as ‘culture’. With this approach, the research project in hand establishes the new field of ‘Globalization-Sensitive Genre Research’.

Online corporate self-portrayal texts are identified as typical representatives of the emerging genre of infosuasion and are characterized by a typical communicative mode, the ‘corporate image mode’. This mode consists of a unique combination of linguistic practices that are typical of texts with an informative communicative purpose and of texts that are characterized by a persuasive function. Accordingly, the genre of infosuasion is a hybrid genre that combines the two communicative purposes of information and persuasion. The analysis also identifies a tendency towards a uniform mode of communication across cultures, which indicates that online corporate image work seems to be only loosely positioned in the culture of the corporation’s home country.

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