Can a corporate identity cross borders by borrowing English, the contemporary lingua franca?

Tréguer-Felten, Geneviève – Gérer et Comprendre, 118, Décembre 2014, p. 16-29.

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Everywhere around the world, organizations are trying to internationalize their corporate identities by introducing themselves through brochures or websites in English –or rather in English as a lingua franca (ELF)– to an “international” public. The self-image (ethos) thus conveyed is intended to inspire confidence; however, can this ideal image, initially drafted in the organization’s language/culture of origin and transposed into ELF, convince a public that shares but one known characteristic: understanding ELF, a language that people borrow and invest with their own cultural roots. The analysis of self-presentations produced by organizations belonging to countries as physically and culturally distant as France and China, whose “ideal” corporate identities hardly match raises a seldom addressed question: how relevant is it to transpose into ELF a company’s corporate identity initially designed for a national audience?

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