Tréguer-Felten, Geneviève – in Fiona Rossette & Marcè Pujol Berché (eds) : Langues et pratiques du discours en situation professionnelle, Limoges : Lambert Lucas, 2020, p.43-62.
Students about to enter an increasingly-diverse business world should not only be trained in speaking English, the so-called universal language, but cautioned about the pitfalls which accompany its use as a lingua franca (ELF) by non-natives. Neither fluency in British (or any other sort of) English, nor intercultural competence will suffice to avoid the kind of misunderstandings that arise when ELF is used, in particular in writing (80% of employees’ professional exchanges, nowadays). Associating cross-cultural discourse analysis and culture interpretive approach, the author presents various professional situations (emails and corporate discourse) gathered in several multinational enterprises. She shows that speakers often misunderstand one another because of instinctive transfers into their respective native languages and cultural backgrounds. This impacts on the way messages received make sense but also on the discursive form that writings take. To improve intercultural communication, the author advocates several steps. The first consisting in a fully-informed use of ELF; the second in acquiring a fuller grasp of their native language discursive features and of their culture specificities –one way to do so and concomitantly acquire a sort of “interlinguistic” awareness consisting in learning other foreign languages besides English.