Differences Between Business Letters From Native and Non-Native Speakers of English

Sims, Brenda R.; Guice, Stephen
January 1992
Journal of Business Communication;Winter92, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p23
Academic Journal
The authors compared 214 letters of inquiry written by native and nonnative speakers of English to test the assumption that cultural factors beyond language greatly affect communication, factors such as the knowledge of the business communication practices and of the cultural expectations of other countries. Letters written by native and by nonnative speakers of English differed significantly from each other in number of mechanical errors in the complimentary closings, in tone (primarily through exaggerated politeness), and in length The two groups also differed significantly in the type of information in the letters, specifically, unnecessary professional and personal information and inappropriate requests for evaluation and intercession. These findings indicate that the native speakers' letters overall deviated less from US business communication practices than did the nonnative speakers' letters.


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