Models For Discourse Analysis Of Business Correspondence: Kazakhstani Context

Abstract

A review of foreign and domestic studies developed on the basis of various methods and linguistic approaches showed that the analysis of various business discourse genres is often accompanied by the construction of models of discourse analysis and description of business texts. Modeling allows researchers to clearly identify aspects, parameters and analysis algorithm at both horizontal and vertical levels. The models for studying business texts generally include such analysis parameters as the main characteristics of the class of communicative events, participants, their roles, status, goals and objectives, speech impact factors, etc. However, very few studies include a comprehensive analysis containing communicative-pragmatic and linguistic-stylistic aspects of understanding business discourse within the framework of a socio-cognitive approach. It is especially crucial in the context of modern intercultural Kazakhstani business discourse which is mainly characterized by functioning of, at least, three languages, i.e. Kazakh, Russian and English. In this study, the model of business correspondence discourse analysis based on the Kazakh, Russian and English languages is developed taking into account the specifics of Kazakhstani business discourse. It includes the following levels of descriptive analysis as a compositional and structural parameter, communicative-pragmatic parameter, and socio-cognitive parameter, as a result of which the national-cultural specificity of the studied business texts is revealed. We made an attempt to show that the main characteristics of communicative events have not only a pragmatic, but also a cognitive dimension, which includes the knowledge of society representatives about the norms of speech behavior in certain situations of discursive activity.

Keywords: Modeldiscourse analysisbusiness lettersKazakhstani business discourseintercultural business communication

Introduction

Despite the various linguistic studies in the field of business discourse and business communication, the concept of “business discourse” itself is still not uniquely defined in modern linguistic. In this regard, the term “business” should be first clarified in its broad and narrow sense. A broad understanding involves communication within the organization as part of a business discourse, since, according to some scholars (Koеstеr, 2017), the interaction between colleagues in private sector organizations has much in common with interactions between office workers in the public sector. A narrow understanding of business discourse includes communication between its participants in order to carry out joint business through various methods of business communication, for example, business correspondence (Connor, Ene, & Traversa, 2016; Malyuga & McCarthy, 2018; Ruan, 2016), or through business negotiations (Ilie, Nickerson, & Planken, 2019; Nickerson & Planken, 2015; Peleckis & Peleckiene, 2015; etc.). In general, most researchers agree that business discourse is a complex communicative phenomenon, including, on the one hand, the totality of all speech acts representing purposeful speech activity, the common characteristic of which is business relations, and on the other, the amount of common knowledge about the surrounding reality, necessary for understanding these speech acts, the so-called sociocultural context of communication, characterizing its participants, production processes and speech perception, taking into account background knowledge, based on the norms, values ​​and rules of communication accepted in the business community.

Problem Statement

A review of foreign and Kazakhstani studies (Bargiela-Chiappini & Nickerson, 2014; Beznayeva, 2009; Flowerdew & Richardson, 2018; Shiryaeva & Avsharov, 2018; Stebletsova, 2016; Tannen, Hamilton, & Schiffrin, 2015; Zhu, 2005) developed on the basis of various methods and linguistic approaches, showed that the study of various genres of business discourse in the framework of a socio-cognitive approach is often accompanied by the construction of models of discourse analysis and description of business texts. Modeling allows the researcher to clearly identify aspects, parameters and analysis algorithm at both horizontal and vertical levels. The models for analyzing business texts for the most part include such analysis parameters as the main characteristics of the class of communicative events, participants, their roles, status, goals and objectives, speech impact factors, etc. Models differ from each other most often in the number of distinguished parameters and aspects.

Research Questions

The study allows to consider the following research questions:

  • main features of modern Kazakhstani business discourse in the framework of globalization and integration processes, historical, cultural, geopolitical, economic and other factors

  • socio-cognitive approach in discourse analysis of business correspondence in Kazakh, Russian and English languages, which includes compositional-structural, communicative-pragmatic, and socio-cognitive levels.

Purpose of the Study

This paper is an attempt of discovering a generalized practice that can be followed and applied to discourse analysis. By considering and generalizing different models of discourse analysis we developed a model of discourse analysis for business correspondence based on the Kazakh, Russian and English languages taking into account the specifics of Kazakhstani business discourse. It includes the following levels of descriptive analysis as a compositional and structural parameter, communicative-pragmatic parameter, and socio-cognitive parameter, as a result of which the national-cultural specificity of the studied business texts is revealed.

Research Methods

In the framework of this study, an analysis of all existing models of discursive analysis was carried out using the example of English, Russian, and Kazakh-speaking business discourse.

In order to carry out a comprehensive discourse analysis of business correspondence texts, in this study a model of descriptive analysis of business texts was developed that takes into account the sociocultural context of Kazakhstani business discourse. This generalized model considers the text of business correspondence in compositionally-structural, communicative-pragmatic and socio-cognitive parameters, allowing us to consistently describe both certain similar features and significant differences of the business cultures in question.

Findings

Business Correspondence and Business Discourse

Following the modern researchers, in this study the term “business correspondence” is used as one of the genres of written business discourse, which, in our opinion, is the most acceptable and relevant to modern trends in the field of business communication. As known, linguists (Bargiela-Chiappini & Nickerson, 2014; Kudryashova & Putilina, 2018) distinguish two modes of business discourse, i.e., oral and written. The regular use of certain types of business contacts in the practice of intercultural business communication has led to the consolidation of established speech forms that function in the form of different genres of oral and written business discourse (Bargiela-Chiappini & Nickerson, 2014; Kudryashova & Putilina, 2018; van Horn, 2019). Business correspondence is one of the modes of business discourse that relates to written business texts. The analysis of business correspondence texts is of particular interest, since they clearly show the characteristic features of socio-cognitive and communicative-pragmatic processes that occur in the minds of business communicants in the preparation of a business text that reflect both traditional characteristics and progressive trends in the development of business writing culture in modern conditions the formation of market relations. Business correspondence includes commercial offers, marketing letters, request letters, request letters, commercial invitation letters, cover letters, as well as types of business letters allocated by means of business correspondence transmission, for example, electronic messages, fax messages, telexes, memo, etc. Written genres of business discourse also include reports, contracts (agreements), resumes, curriculum vitae, minutes, statements, petitions, orders, orders, charters, analytical notes, press releases PS, offer packages, and others. In turn, oral business discourse genres are business meetings, interviews, telephone conversations, business meetings, meetings and meetings, presentations, video conferences, oral reports, etc. As the analysis of linguistic works of recent years showed, most of the works were devoted to the study of written genres of business discourse, such as business reports (Al-Obaidani, 2015; Henry, 2019; etc.), business letters (Burkitbaeva, 2005; Stebletsova, 2016, etc.), business contracts (Haigh, 2018; Shmelyeva & Antonova, 2018; Zhu & Wu, 2011 etc.), faxes (Hiranburana, 2017; Zhu, 2005; etc.) and emails (Burkitbaeva, 2005; Darics, 2015 etc.). A number of studies are devoted to the study of the oral genres of business discourse, in most cases, business meetings and negotiations (Bargiela-Chiappini & Nickerson, 2014; Peleckis & Peleckiene, 2015; etc.).

Thus, a review of modern research on this topic shows that the analysis of business discourse is attracting increasing attention of linguists. Based on these works, it seems possible to single out the following main features of the study of business communication and business discourse:

  • interdisciplinarity: the study of business communication and discourse requires a fundamentally comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach, including research in the field of socio-pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, intercultural pragmatics, contrastive rhetoric, hermeneutics, critical anthropology, cultural sociology, cultural psychology, business theory and management, etc.

  • a set of several research methods: a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, discourse analysis, conversion analysis, ethnomethodology, ethnography, multimodal analysis, etc.

  • explanatory: the desire to identify signs (most often of a national-cultural nature) of constructing business messages of both oral and written modes, in particular, texts of business correspondence, and to find an explanation for them.

However, despite the presence of a large number of studies on the issue under consideration, questions related to optimal modeling in discourse analysis and the cognitive component of business discourse, interlanguage communicative-pragmatic and intercultural features of business correspondence remain insufficiently studied, due to internationalization processes, globalization and integration factors that are characteristic of the modern business world.

Models of business discourse analysis

Some scholars believe that cognitive models of the speech behavior of business communication should include a cultural aspect, since business communication always has background, encyclopedic, extralinguistic knowledge (Van Dijk, Ting-Toomey, Smitherman, & Troutman, 1997; Zhu & Wu, 2011; etc.). Based on this idea, the New Zealand linguist Zhu (2005) tried to expand the sociocultural boundaries of contrastive rhetoric by integrating it with the traditions of the genre (Aull & Swales, 2015; Bakhtin, 2018; Swales, 1990) and developed a model for cross-cultural analysis of business genres (Figure 01 ). The material for her research was three genres of business writing in Chinese and English: advertising letters, commercial invitations and faxes. It is important to note that, within the framework of the developed model, the researcher used the parameters of intercultural measurement, genre analysis with the inclusion of expert assessments by Chinese and New Zealand managers, which made a significant contribution to the modern development of contrastive rhetoric. Noting the special importance of comparing different cultures on two sides (from the perspective of the compiler and reader of a business letter), Zhu (2005) found that, compared with New Zealand managers, Chinese business professionals pay great attention to the rules of polite behavior, such as the use of appropriate forms courtesy towards the addressee.

Based on an understanding of the semantic structures of a particular discourse community, Zhu and Wu (2011) expands the study of genres by adding additional measurement parameters from such sciences as contrastive rhetoric, pragmatics (Bargiela-Chiappini & Nickerson, 2014; Van Dijk et al., 1997), intercultural communication, and the theory of the Chinese genre.

As a result, the model is presented at the level of four stages of comparison:

  • comparison of sociocultural and technological factors

  • comparison of persuasive orientations and communicative goals

  • comparison of texts, including compositional and structural characteristics and intertextuality

  • comparison of expert ratings

Figure 1: The model for cross-cultural genre study by Zhu (2005, р. 58)
The model for cross-cultural genre study by Zhu (2005, р. 58)
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At the first stage, comparing the sociocultural contexts within which business genres function is important. When identifying various differences in socio-economic, sociocultural, professional and interpersonal contexts, researchers used the main provisions of theories of cultural variables by Hall (2000) and Hofstеdе, Hofstеdе, and Minkov, (2010, p. 177-203), the “save face” theory of in the relationship “reader – writer” (Pan, Scollon, & Scollon, 2002).

At the second stage, communicative intentions and persuasive orientations are compared from the point of view of the theory of rhetoric and persuasion according to Aristotle, which includes such important elements as pathos, logos and ethos, in comparison with the traditions of Chinese writing, which tend to use “feelings and context”.

At the third stage, the textual characteristics of letters are analyzed, including not only rhetorical properties, but other elements of the text, such as intertextuality.

At the fourth stage, expert assessments of business professionals directly working in the business sphere and representing the English and Chinese business cultures are examined regarding the success of writing a letter in terms of achieving communicative intentions and results (Bakhtin, 2018).

In general, the developed model represents an attempt to propose a new direction in linguistics in the context of intercultural business communication, namely, cross-cultural genre studies. This model provides a systematic way of studying and comparing the cognitive structures of the genre. As shown in Figure 01 , persuasive orientations and communicative goals act as important elements of this model. In addition, the proposed model contributes to the expansion of the sociocultural approach in cross-cultural genre comparison.

An analysis of modern Russian linguists’ works made it possible to identify a number of interesting, from our point of view, models of discourse analysis of business texts. Thus, for example, in Shiryaeva and Avsharov’s (2018) work made an attempt to create a holistic multidimensional cognitive model of institutional business discourse.

The model is presented in the form of a complex frame, including:

  • external context: communicants engaged in relevant professional activities, their typical characteristics, social traditions, behavioral stereotypes of the modern business community;

  • internal context: the content of the institutional business discourse, which characterizes the cognitive spaces of the participants in professional communication and is updated by various types of institutional business discourse texts (Shiryaeva & Avsharov, 2018, p. 8).

In addition, the author develops models of the main constituents of institutional business discourse, including:

  • recipients

  • addressees

  • institutionalism

  • text

  • specific cognitive characteristics and functional patterns of each participant in professional speech activity

  • a system of knowledge produced and stored in this social education (Shiryaeva & Avsharov, 2018, p. 24).

Of great interest to our research is also the work of the Russian scholar Stebletsova (2016), dedicated to identifying the national and cultural identity of English and Russian business writing. In her opinion, to compare the texts of business letters from different cultures, it is not enough just to use the characteristics of the basic general text categories. It is necessary to develop such a description model that would provide for factors reflecting the originality of the text of a business letter, and would offer criteria for comparison (Stebletsova, 2016).

Stebletsova (2016) notes that the study of Russian business writing as a type of text is of particular interest, since in modern conditions of the formation of market relations, Russian business writing is most intensively developing, at the same time experiencing a certain “pressure” from Western models and at the same time maintaining its national and cultural identity. In order to interpret the national mentality and cultural traditions of the participants in the business cooperation process, the linguist develops a theoretical model of a pragmalinguistic description of the texts of business letters, identifies aspects, factors and parameters relevant to this description, and also formulates criteria for classifying business letters, justifying the typological features of each type of business letters.

The theoretical model developed by Stebletsova (2016) for describing the text of a business letter includes the following aspects:

  • pragmatic: target setting factor, influence factor on the addressee, text addressee factor, business text addressee factor, relationship factor between the addressee and addressee, speech effectivity factor, predicted result effectivity factor, national text orientation factor, business text language selection factor;

  • textual: substantive factor, genre-thematic factor, factor of the topic’s disclosure method, factor of thematic structuring of the text, factor of compositional texturing of the text, factor of content, representation factor, factor of the volume of the business text, factor of connectivity of the business text;

  • visual-compositional: the location factor of the compositionally-thematic parts of the text, the font selection factor, the graphic selection factor, the field factor;

  • spelling and punctuation: factor punctuation;

  • linguistic: the factor of the choice of stylistically colored lexical and phraseological means, the factor of the choice of the semantic type of vocabulary, the factor of the frequency of use of lexemes of various parts of speech, the factor of the choice of syntactic means;

  • normative aspect: factor of stylistic conformity of a business text, factor of conformity of a business text to etiquette norms, factor of choice of politeness strategies, factor of standardization of a business text (Stebletsova, 2016, p. 52-55).

These aspects consist of a number of factors, parameters, sub-parameters and signs that allow both a separate analysis of business letters of the Russian and English language cultures, and a comparative description of them, as a result of which the national-cultural specificity of the text of the business letter is revealed.

Attempts to develop their own models of analysis of business discourse to texts of different languages are carried out by Kazakhstani scholars as well. So, for example, the linguist Yerezhepova (2017), along with the linguistic characteristics of the text, especially emphasizes the dominant role of extra-linguistic parameters in conducting a pragmalinguistic analysis of official business texts in their genre specifics, in particular, resolutions. The linguist distinguishes the following complex of extralinguistic features: speech activity macrosphere; leading types of activities in this area; leading types of thinking in this area; leading relevant communicative tasks; typical status of the addressee; typical status of the addressee; leading types of contact; degree of substantive and formal preparedness of speech; the leading form of manifestation of the tongue; leading forms of organization of communication; leading type of communication atmosphere; the proportion and nature of standardized situations (contents); leading genres of speech works and types of speech tactics; needs, capabilities, nature of the use of non-verbal components of communication (Yerezhepova, 2017).

In general, the analysis of the decision as a specific genre of business discourse was represented by the following features: a) a communicative goal; b) communicants; c) the social status of the communicants; d) unilateral / bilateral orientation; e) interchangeability, constancy of communicative roles; f) communication sphere; g) communicative situation; h) communicative attitude; i) a communicative tool; j) social orientation; k) place of publication of decisions. In addition, language, textual characteristics, official-business style functions, genre specifics, lexical originality, grammar, syntactic structure, architectonics of resolutions, etc. are analyzed (Yerezhepova, 2017).

Another Kazakhstani researcher Burkitbaeva (2005) in her study offers a generalized list model for analyzing business discourse using business documents in modern English as an example (business letter, recommendation, e-mail, facsimile). Given the complex and dynamic process of business communication in terms of a functional approach, the author made an attempt to model the interactive context by performing ideographic discourse analysis as one of the ways to describe the discourse. The generalized-list model of analysis of business discourse that she proposed contains a clearly and hierarchically structured, with a detailed breakdown of signs, list of collective and distributive descriptors and information about their internal relationships (Burkitbaeva, 2005, p. 88) (Table 01 ).

Table 1 -
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According to Burkitbaeva (2005), this model of business discourse analysis is flexible and allows the necessary changes and additions to be further verified for other genres of business discourse described to determine and clarify its characteristics.

Taking into consideration the above mentioned, the models that include all the basic criteria necessary for a comparative analysis of business discourse are the models by Zhu and Wu (2011) and Stebletsova (2016). These models require a comprehensive analysis containing communicative-pragmatic and linguistic-stylistic aspects of understanding business discourse. Nevertheless, we believe that the inclusion of such additional parameters as socio-cognitive characteristics, presupposition knowledge, sociocultural context, value aspect, makes it possible to improve the algorithms used by the authors. This means that such models can be built taking into account the socio-cultural and socio-pragmatic aspects of business discourse, i.e. those sociocultural trends that affect the use of the language and ensure the acceptability of the statement and its adequacy to the situations.

Model of descriptive analysis of business correspondence

The proposed model of descriptive analysis of business correspondence texts was developed taking into account the specifics of Kazakhstan’s business discourse (Figure 02 ). We made an attempt to show that the main characteristics of communicative events have not only a pragmatic, but also a cognitive dimension, which includes the knowledge of society representatives about the norms of speech behavior in certain situations of discursive activity.

The whole complex process of skillfully operating socio-cognitive, professional and intercultural knowledge in the context of intercultural business discourse can be attributed to the discursive competencies of a specialist and professional. In other words, discursive competencies are a repertoire of all the knowledge and skills that an expert demonstrates when using written and oral genres in the process of intercultural business relations (Zhu, 2005).

The developed model includes the following levels of descriptive analysis of business correspondence, as a result of which the national-cultural specificity of the studied business texts is revealed, and the analysis can occur both on a descending and an ascending basis:

  • compositional and structural (rhetorical) parameter;

  • communicative-pragmatic parameter;

  • socio-cognitive parameter.

Figure 2: Model of descriptive analysis of texts of business correspondence
Model of descriptive analysis of texts of business correspondence
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The specifics of compiling business correspondence are expressed in compositional and structural characteristics, namely in the logic of the presentation of information, the principles of selecting information, and ways of stimulating the addressee to take the necessary actions. The style of presenting and representing information, the features of its location and structuring in the text / discourse, is undoubtedly associated with a specific selection of cognitive operations or their preferred use in the processes of constructing and interpreting texts of different types (Beznayeva, 2009, p. 8; etc.) In this work, the compositional structure of business correspondence will be considered from the perspective of contrastive rhetoric (Kaplan, 2005), since this direction indicates the variability and close relationship of culturally determined models of the compositional-semantic structure of the written text and cognitive models due to the type of national culture. To this end, in this study we will use the methodology for analyzing the construction of texts (move analysis) by Bhatia (2016) and Swales (1990), the main advantage of which is that gives the genre of texts its distinctive cognitive structure, and at the same time, it makes it possible to identify differences in the context of cultures.

Within the developed framework, it is of particular interest to analyze the communicative-pragmatic aspect of the business document under study, which consists in identifying and then comparing the conditions of the pragmatic context of this type of activity, communicative intentions and strategies for generating and interpreting the business genre, persuasive orientations, politeness strategies, and tonality of communication. Thus, for example, the Russian linguist Beznayeva (2009) emphasizes the importance of predicting the “pragmatic effect” by business communication participants in the process of interethnic business communication, taking into account “their role following which stabilizes the process of business communication and ensures its effectiveness” (p. 110). This confirms today the particular relevance of issues related to the effective transfer of communicative design in the context of intercultural business communication.

The last component of the proposed model is devoted to the analysis of the socio-cognitive parameters of a business text. In this case, it is supposed to examine and compare in detail various pregnant knowledge, contexts of the sociocultural, socio-economic, professional, organizational environment, interpersonal relationships within which business speech behavior of communicants is carried out. This parameter is closely related both to the cultural space in terms of the principle of “relevance” (Bеrkеnkottеr & Huckin, 2016) of using the text of business correspondence, information about which we obtain as a result of communicative interactions in everyday and professional life, and with intercultural differences. It includes the analysis of the presupposition knowledge of business professionals contributing to the construction of effective bilateral business communication, the peculiarities of the sociocultural context in the production and perception of a text of business correspondence, the value system of Kazakh, Russian and English business cultures.

The model presented in the study is the main algorithm of descriptive analysis of business correspondence in Kazakh, Russian and English as a special genre of business discourse in the context of intercultural communication. Given the variety of existing business letters in the Kazakh, Russian and English communicative cultures, in this work we limited ourselves to analyzing only the most typical (most often used) texts of business correspondence in the modern Kazakhstan business context. Moreover, the construction of this model of descriptive analysis of texts of business correspondence will allow us to understand the specifics of Kazakhstan's business discourse in all its relationships.

Conclusion

The systematic work of domestic and foreign linguists on issues of business discourse and intercultural business communication revealed a steady research interest in this issue and showed that the speech behavior of a business person is due to his belonging to a certain culture. The source of the model of human speech behavior is the model of social behavior, including patterns, prescriptions, knowledge, skills, value orientations, ideals and norms of activity, operating in the context of a particular culture. Of particular importance here are the features of national culture and history, ethical and aesthetic views of the participants in communication. The expansion of international contacts, characteristic of the present time, places high demands on the knowledge of business partners in the field of national and cultural specifics, contributing to the most appropriate solution to the problems of effective voice communication in the field of business relations.

In the context of intercultural business communication, business communication participants accumulate their cultural knowledge and form the ability to understand the mentality of speakers of another language. It is established that the development of modern approaches to the study of the business text led to a multidimensional approach to the study of business communication and business correspondence. It consists in studying it from the point of view of compositional-structural, communicative-pragmatic and socio-cognitive parameters. The use of discourse analysis makes it possible to fully characterize intercultural business communication.

References

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Publisher

European Publisher

First Online

03.08.2020

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2020.08.4

Online ISSN

2357-1330