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Genre of interactional discourse
Course 3

Written communication

Written message vs. oral message they

share supremacy
Orality = instability vs. writing = stability no
longer valid (new forms of orality, e.g. voice
Oral message vs written message no strict
opposition (due to technology)

Specific features of the written


Text spatiality: the text covers a certain

material space
Makes use of signs (e.g. alphabet) and way
of assembling these signs to form words
Both the writer and the reader must know the
Iconic elements may be attached to the text
(photos, diagrams, drawings etc.)

Advantages and disadvantages of

written communication
A permanent means of
communication (record

No cost saving

Delegation of responsibilities


More precise and explicit

Feedback is not immediate

Develops and enhances an

organizations image

Requires good skills in

language and vocabulary use

Legal defenses may depend on Poor writing skills have a

written communication
negative impact on the
organization reputation
Helps laying down principles,
policies and rules in the org.

Too much paperwork is a


Functions of language
Roman Jakobson: 6 functions:
1. referential oriented towards the context (The Earth
is round)
2. emotive oriented towards the addresser (Yuck!)
3. conative oriented towards the addressee (Come
4. phatic (contact) to establish, prolong or discontinue
communication (Hello!) used in business letters
5. metalingual to establish mutual agreement on the
code (What do you mean by krill?)
6. poetic focus on the message for its own sake

Interactional vs. transactional

language is used to express and receive thoughts

and ideas (?!) (e.g. How are you?, Its a fine day,
isnt it?)
Brown and Yule (1983): lg. is used to establish and
maintain social relationships
2 functions of lg: transactional and interactional
Transactional: to convey content
Interactional: to maintain social relationships and
express personal attitudes the interactional use of
lg. in business writing

Interactional English in
business writing

Transactional lg. is a prominent feature in writing

Interactional lg. is usually associated with
conversations (to open, close, maintain
Business writing types: letters, memos, reports,
proposals, bulletins, orders, quotations, contracts,
forms, e-mail messages, announcements, ads are
message-oriented aiming at requesting or providing
A good relationship (through interactional lg) is of
vital importance in business transactions

Questions before delivering a

message (1)

1. who is the addressee of the message)?

Receiver is:
known: an individual? a group? (social,
psychological characteristics)
identified: individual?, group?
unknown: need to build a representation
(hypotheses with error hazards)

Questions before delivering a

message (2)
What is the objective of the sender? Why?
What kind of feedback does he want to get: a
response, an action, a judgment, acquiring
knowledge, feeling emotions for the receiver,
settling a collective project, meeting the
receiver, engagement in a debate etc.
How can the objective be attained? Strategy?
Form of the message? (material, content,
structure, expression)

Form of the message: choices

a) material: paper, format, page set-up, use of

colors, images, drawings, diagrams
b) content: selection of pertinent ideas
c) structure: organization of thoughts, plan of ideas,
distribution of paragraphs
d) expression: - type of discourse (informative,
narrative, argumentative)
- choice of verb personal pronoun,
verb tenses, modality
- language register, tone