Publication details

Discourse expectations concerning lexical means and syntactic structures in corporate annual reports

Title in English A specific type of professional institutional discourse, annual business reports, involve an obvious persuasive intention, realised by persuasive strategies. These are based on relatively conventional and predictable selections of lexis, syntactic struct
Authors

VOGEL Radek

Year of publication 2019
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Education

Citation
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Description A specific type of professional institutional discourse, annual business reports, involve an obvious persuasive intention, realised by persuasive strategies. These are based on relatively conventional and predictable selections of lexis, syntactic structures and non-linguistic means. The strategies employ overt (lexical, syntactic and discursive means) and covert devices. The underlying corpus-based research uses the concordancing tool SketchEngine, and it was carried out on the subcorpus of English business documents in the Corpus of English and Czech Specialised Discourses (CECSD), compiled at Masaryk University in 2017. The focus is on a subgenre of executive statements (conventionally called “letters”), as they are characterised by persuasive potential. The study of persuasive strategies is based on the concept of persuasion as a communicative effort aimed at influencing attitude, thought and action (Perloff 2003), linguistic indication of evaluation (Hunston and Thompson 1999), the theory of appraisal and attitude (Martin and White 2005) and preference of implicitness (Östman 2005). The analysis looks into the characteristic linguistic correlates of all three modes of persuasion (ethos, logos and pathos) and correlation between the type of message and the employed means. Positively connotated lexis is clearly preferred to lexis with negative (or excessively positive) connotations, and along with a non-imposing, objective tone, markers of sharing and involvement, etc. it contributes to the readers´ satisfaction and identification with the company. Previous research (Vogel 2018) identified two key strategies, that of facing a problem vs. that of relativising a problem, and outlined several subtypes. Communication of good vs. bad news is also reflected syntactically, namely by frequency of active vs. passive voice, authorial stance markers (cf. Hyland and Tse 2004) expressed by animate (I, we, personification “the company”) and inanimate subjects (referring to external causes). Expected are also different ratios between verb types (cf. Thomas 1997), especially between verbs of being, material and mental verbs. Although objective and explicit information is required in this discourse, there is space for implicit and explicit enhancement of persuasiveness and for expression of beliefs, which is expected as well as accepted by the audience.
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