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business communicati

Jun 27, 2015




  • 1. A short history of business communication: from ancient culture to e-mail and other technologies Professor Nigel Holden

2. Overview of presentation

  • Business development in the Ancient World (Near East and Mediterranean)
  • Some facts on, and deductions about, business language and communication in those times
  • The essence of business communication
  • Aspects of business communication 15th to 20th centuries
  • E -mail; hackers, Netspeak

3. In the beginning...

  • The oldest records of human civilisation itself, dating from 3200 BC if not earlier, evoke the crude and primitive business transactions of the very ancient communities just north of what was then the swampy coastline of the Arabian Gulf (Moore and Lewis, 1999)
  • And markets predate the oldest records

4. The early cities

  • The Urban Revolution of the Bronze Age (3100-2900 BC) gave rise to politics, diplomacy, war and business which, if different from our own, are, for the first time, recognisable (Moore and Lewis, 1999)
  • Cities are hubs of commerce, centres of wealth, political and military power
  • Cities are resource-seeking (as we would say today); they stimulate long-distance trade
  • .

5. The Ancient Near East, 3000-2000 BC

  • A history of expanding trade and commerce, growing social inequality, and the rise and fall of a centralised bureaucratic government

6. Mesopotamia

  • Businessmen could write
  • They had to master the bureaucratic language of temple and palace transactions (priesthoods were heavily involved in business)
  • They appeared to use language in personal, informal ways among themselves
  • Business relations with trading neighbours were correct and cordial

7. Ancient Near East 2000-1000 BC

  • Expansion of trade routes
  • Improvements in military technology meant that routes could be protected
  • The first business empires (Assyria)
  • The worlds first multicultural workforce in Anatolia (Turkey) in 1900 BC?

8. The Mediterranean World 1000 BC- 1 AD

  • The Phoenicians (the worlds first exemplars of foreign direct investment?)
  • The Greeks (colonies and culture)
  • The Romans (the first managers in the modern sense of the word, independent suppliers of bricks and military equipment)
  • The emergence of commercial languages

9. Business has a long-standing reputation for being vulgar

  • To win the people, always cook them some savoury dish which pleases them. Besides, you possess all the attributes of a demagogue: a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, coarse-grained nature and the language of the market-place (Demosthenes, Athenian soldier, d. 413 BC)

10. Business communication the Ancient World

  • Businessmen kept written records and did calculations
  • They probably simplified cumbersome writing systems for the sake of speed and secrecy
  • They knew how to speak to customers (kings, priests, dictators, officials, etc)
  • They established lines of communication with suppliers; they networked!
  • Business would be conducted with ritual behaviour (businessmen are actors!)

11. The essence of business communication

  • The transaction is based on obligation and economic self-interest (Mauss, 1954)
  • Exchange is accompanied by gifts (signs of respect, fear, hope for more favour)
  • The behaviour is formal pretence and social deception (Mauss, 1954)

12. In other words

  • The businessmen of the Ancient World communicated and used language in strikingly similar ways to their modern counterparts
  • They made a clear distinction between spoken and written language
  • They dissembled, usedhype , did clever things to written language just like now!

13. In what ways does modern business communication differ from the Ancient World? (1)

  • Speed (instantaneousness) and global reach; variety of media and multiple possibilities for information storage, retrieval,dissemination and modification.
  • The ever-expanding lexis of business and management
  • Legal protection (copyright, liability, contractual arrangements, etc)

14. In what ways does modern business communication differ from the Ancient World? (2)

  • The emergence of a form of writing (e-mail) which has conversational characteristics and a tendency to introduceinformality into business exchanges
  • In 5,000 years of recorded human
  • business activity, this is something new!

15. Between the ancient world and e-mail: the great invention of printing

  • Printing as an agent of change:
  • Created a lay( non - priestly )intelligentsia
  • Stimulated literacy, comparative scholarship and even children's books
  • Laid the foundation of translation as a profession
  • Transformed the Christian church
  • Transformed reading

16. The impact of printing and commerceover many centuries

  • Laid the foundation for mass communication
  • Made records of transactions permanent
  • Made advertising and company brochures possible
  • Enshrineduntil the late 20 thcenturythe formal language of commerce
  • But we had better know the difference between speech and writing

17. Writing is

  • Objective, a monologue, durable
  • Scannable
  • Planned
  • Highly structured and syntactically complex
  • Concerned with past and future
  • Formal
  • Expository (explanatory)
  • Argument-oriented
  • Decontextualised and abstract

18. Speech is

  • Interpersonal (face-to-face)
  • A dialogue
  • Ephemeral, linear and spontaneous
  • Loosely structured
  • Syntactically simple
  • Concerned with the present
  • Informal and narrative
  • Event-oriented
  • Contextualised and concrete

19. Some important things in the history of writing (the medium)

  • Prescriptivism and standardisation (social norms and values; national languages)
  • The growth of literature, science, etc
  • Reading as a private activity
  • Notions of authorship and copyright
  • The cult of hand-writing (from glorification of religious texts to projection of the civilised self)

20. Some important things in the development of writing (the channel)

  • The development of personal writing machines (first design in England, 1711; first type-writer in the USA, 1873)
  • Typography invented (1852)
  • Henry James (1843-1916) used the telephone as adictation medium
  • Other developments: telegraphy, telex (teleprinter), the PC.

21. Why the PC is important in the history of commerce

  • Its storage capacity in various programmes (text, graphics, spread-sheets, etc)
  • Its cross-referencing capability
  • Its capability to produce (camera-ready) documents of any length
  • Its development into an international communication centre and connectability with other devices
  • Its impact on interpersonal business communication, especially through e-mail

22. What is distinctive about e-mail?

  • It is a computer-mediated communication method which is blurring the distinction between speech and writing, because:
  • It changes relationships between people in literate societies, whereby communication is no longer dependent on (a) face-to-face contact (via the immediacy of speech) and (b) writing to overcome the constraints of time and space

23. E-mail in its written mode

  • Interlocutors are physically separated
  • Separation creates an equal communication playing field (and may induce personal disclosure)
  • It is durable (there is a record)
  • Idiosyncratic use of grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, abbreviations, etc
  • Can be written in almost any native language

24. Why e-mail is like speech

  • Low level of informality, but can generate intimacy quickly
  • Typically unedited
  • Possible unguarded expression of emotion
  • High usage of the present tense (eg I think, this means, why is this so?

25. The verdict

  • E-mail is a cross-breed between writing and speech ... clearly a language form in flux ... a contact language
  • (Barron, 2000)

26. E-mail as a contact language

  • Restricted code of communication
  • No-bodys language, but yet common
  • Replaces somebodys language
  • Creates a special lexicon (eg abbreviations)

27. E-mail and the evolution of business

  • A furth