Chinese English in as lingua franca in global business setting: A case study of ongoing emails of a foreign company in China
Chengdu Technological University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
With the process of globalization, English has been increasingly become the lingua franca for people speaking different languages to communicate with each other, among whom the number of non-native speakers of English far outnumbers those native speakers in traditional sense. Against this background, the principle of taking the rules of native English speakers as the norms is undergoing challenges. The non-native speakers are claiming the ownership and rights of norm-providing to the English language (Crystal, 2003). In business setting, this is especially true (Charles, 2007). This paper intends to explore the use of Chinese English as lingua franca in business setting. Taking a foreign enterprise based in China as the case, this paper investigates over 400 ongoing business e-mails written in English by its Chinese employees, including the management and other staff. Four most salient patterns of Chinese English structures are identified, i.e., punctuations, absence of inflectional markers in number and tense, serial verb construction, and zero articles, which are then analyzed cultural, linguistic and social-linguistic perspectives. The effectiveness of such language patterns are proved according to the principle of “understandability” proposed by Kachru and Nelson (2006) from both intra-cultural and inter-cultural aspects. Based on the afore-said analysis, this paper concludes that Chinese English, during the process of language contact, has become a legitimate English variation, and has been providing new norms for the other countries to follow. It is suggested that business English users in China need to use their Chinese English with a confident stance, while business partners from other countries need to get familiar with this English variation in order for them to communicate effectively with their Chinese partners.
Key words: lingua franca / business English / e-mails / Chinese English features / English variation
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2016
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