Yeung, Lorrita N.T.
Lingnan College, Hong Kong

Lorrita N.T. Yeung
English Department
Lingnan College
8 Castle Peak Road
Tuen Mun
Hong Kong

Strand: Discourse English

Title: Where Action Speaks: Modalization and Modulation in Business Reports

Context is widely recognized in discourse analysis as an important consideration in the study of register in a particular genre (Halliday and Hasan, 1985; Martin, 1992; Berkenkotter and Huckin, 1995; Bhatia, 1993). According to contextual theory, the choice of register is determined by practical considerations of the communicative situation. Business communication is often characterized as action-oriented. Business reports, in particular, are typically geared towards practical actions. A study of modalization and modulation in business reports should reflect a very different register from that of a different genre, for example, scientific reports. Business English has been regarded by business practitioners as "brief and concise" and "that it is the message that matters, not the linguistic forms" (Louhiala-Salminen, 1996). In the business reports writing context, this directness in style appears to be motivated by the business executive desire to show commitment to the information being reported, as well as the need to create conviction in the action being recommended. It is therefore expected that an analysis of the modalization and modulation in business reports may yield a very different pattern from that of scientific reports. While the latter has been found to show a higher degree of hedging than ordinary conversation (Hyland, 1995), business reports may well display a lower level than both. The present paper will report a quantitative study of the modalization and modulation in a sample genre of business reports, as compared with the copra of scientific reports and conversations in previous studies Hyland, 1995; Holmes, 1988.


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