Langue commune, cultures distinctes. Les illusions du Globish

Tréguer-Felten, Geneviève – Québec (Canada) : Presses de l’Université de Laval, 2018.

This book draws readers into the realm of employees’ and multinational enterprises’ (MNEs’) intercultural communication. Relying on a dual linguistic and cultural approach, the author analyses e-mail exchanges and French and Chinese MNEs’ self-presentations in English as a lingua franca (ELF), or rather “globish”. She shows how, due to speakers’ instinctive transposition of the situations encountered into their respective languages and cultures, misunderstandings occur which may eventually lead to harmful negative stereotypes. An overview of the way in which any communication process functions and meaning gets constructed explains why ELF should not be considered an understanding panacea but used knowingly. Indispensable in an age of diversity within organizations of all sizes that, moreover, seek to make themselves known by, or trade with, the whole world, ELF use may present risks, but also constitute a resource. The very reasons that make it risky turn it into an access provider to the universes of meaning that are specific to the speakers’ cultures. The different conceptions of customer relations, depending if you are American, Chinese or French, provide a concrete illustration of what ELF use can reveal. Finally, all these considerations suggest that translation into English, too often required from simple ELF speakers unaware of the influence that their native language and their universe of meaning exerts on the language they produce, should be given more attention.

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