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Auteur: Catherine NICKERSON

The impact of English as a lingua franca on international business discourse

Abstract/Résumé: The dominance of English as a lingua franca (EFL) in business professional and organizational contexts continues to be in evidence in both European and Asian contexts. Some researchers have suggested that a hegemony of English native speaker models still exists, whereas others, however, have most recently suggested that this hegemony has begun to break down and is now gradually being replaced most especially in business contexts, by the use of a neutral form of Business English as a lingua franca (BELF) that neither originates in native speakers models nor is owned or influenced by them. Researchers with an interest in BELF have increasingly turned their attention to two main questions; i) the linguistic and discursive nature of BEFL as used in business organizations with particular reference to how business people use it to achieve their objectives, and ii) the influence of a speaker’s (national) cultural background on the discourse strategies that they select in BELF, as well as the impact that these choices then have on speakers of a different cultural background in the course of a business interaction. In this workshop contribution, I will first selectively review recent developments in EFL research, and I will go on to discuss the relevance of these findings for our understanding of international business discourse in general, as well as for our understanding of the use of BELF in particular as an important facilitator of international business. I will draw on my own working context, that of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, as a pertinent example of where the use of BELF has been a major factor in the region’s economic success, and I will aim to relate my discussion to the formation of an appropriate research agenda in the future for applied linguists and discourse analysts with an interest in business language.