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Structural moves reflected in English and Chinese sales letters

ZHU YUNXIA
Discourse Studies
Vol. 2, No. 4 (November 2000), pp. 473-496
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24047460
Page Count: 24
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Abstract

Understanding differences in communication styles is becoming increasingly important in intercultural business communication as more and more countries are involved in doing business internationally and more and more people are doing business with mainland China. This article aims to compare the structural moves used in English and Chinese sales letters from social, intercultural and pragmatic perspectives. It has been argued that the study of text styles such as linearity and circularity in comparative rhetoric may not be sufficient to reflect the overall features of the genres involved. Therefore a holistic approach based on genre study and schema theory has been employed to explore the communicative purposes and various levels of the text. Hall's high- and low-context cultures and cross-cultural pragmatics have also been incorporated to enrich the genre approach. A corpus of 40 sales letters (20 in Chinese and 20 in English) was examined and it was found that Chinese sales letters share similar marketing strategies with English letters as the Chinese economy is becoming increasingly decentralized and privatized. Differences in communication patterns between these letters were identified, however, and shown to be largely due to a number of factors such as the specific values and beliefs of each culture and the different business practice in mainland China.

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