ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics vol:161 pages:31-45
This paper reports on a field study of language needs in a rather extreme area of contemporary business communication, i.e. between the Dutch-speaking Low Countries and mainland China. Interviews within the Dutch-speaking business community dealing with China, as well as case-study research in Flemish and Dutch small-and-medium-sized enterprises have yielded a model of the business sequence within this particular trade setting. The paper highlights language-specific requirements in each phase of that sequence, drawing attention to the role of written and spoken language, culture, Chinese, English and the translation from one into the other. However, an additional form of discourse has come to the forefront. I will zoom in on this key language, which in simplistic terms is all too frequently labelled as being English, and surmise that it has turned into an asset for business communication rather than a source of misunderstanding. Although this paper is not intended to be normative, it equally commands attention with respect to language situations in the area of business, which supposedly condition didactic issues, by considering varying language and cultural features, discussed in the light of tuition policies.