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Chapter 8: Written Communication Patterns. Written Communication Patterns. International English Writing Tone and Style Letter Formats Facsimiles (Fax) Electronic Mail (E-mail) R é sumé and Job Search Information. What percent of outgoing international correspondence is sent in English?.

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chapter 8 written communication patterns

Chapter 8: Written Communication Patterns

Intercultural Business Communication, 3rd ed., Chaney & Martin

written communication patterns
Written Communication Patterns
  • International English
  • Writing Tone and Style
  • Letter Formats
  • Facsimiles (Fax)
  • Electronic Mail (E-mail)
  • Résumé and Job Search Information

Intercultural Business Communication, 3rd ed., Chaney & Martin

what percent of outgoing international correspondence is sent in english
What percent of outgoing international correspondence is sent in English?
  • 97%
  • 1% in French, German, and Spanish

(Percentages for incoming correspondence are similar.)

what are lexical errors
What are lexical errors?
  • Content errors; errors in meaning

Examples of lexical errors:

  • We baste (based) this conclusion on our research.
  • Thank you for your patients (patience).
  • Our office will be closed on this wholey (holy) day.
  • With your aide (aid), we will soon have our office fully staffed.

Intercultural Business Communication, 3rd ed., Chaney & Martin

The results will be worth the weight (wait).
  • Since you plan to visit an ant (aunt) in New York, perhaps we could meet at your convenience.
  • According to the senses (census), the number of exported trucks has declined in the last decade.

Intercultural Business Communication, 3rd ed., Chaney & Martin

what are syntactic errors
What are syntactic errors?
  • Errors in the order of the words in a sentence.
  • Native speakers of a language will discover syntactic errors in a sentence more readily than lexical errors.
    • In Spanish, the noun is given first, then adjectives follow. Example: Paseo del Rio (River Walk)

Intercultural Business Communication, 3rd ed., Chaney & Martin

know your reader
Know Your Reader

Despite all the trade between the U.S. and the Far East, Americans fail to study even common Asian customs and business practices.

Consider one of the most popular words in the English language - you. U.S. people try to personalize writing by taking the “you approach.” But in some other countries, such as Japan, people don’t like this personal touch. They believe that writers should refer to their company: “Would your company be interested in this plan?” Not: “Would you be interested in this plan?”

DeVries, Internationally Yours

international english
International English
  • Use the 3,000 to 4,000 most common English words. Uncommon words, such as onus for burden and flux for continual change, should be avoided.
  • Use only the most common meaning of words. The word high has 20 meanings; the word expensive has one.
  • Choose words with singular rather than multiple meanings.

Riddle & Lanham

Select action-specific verbs and words with few or similar alternate meanings. Use cook breakfast rather than make breakfast; use take a taxi rather than get a taxi.
  • Avoid redundancies (interoffice memorandum), sports terms (ballpark figure), and words that draw mental pictures (red tape).

Riddle & Lanham

Avoid using words in other than their most common way, such as making verbs out of nouns (impacting the economy and faxing a message).
  • Be aware of words that have a unique meaning in some cultures; the word check outside the U.S. generally means a financial instrument and is often spelled cheque.

Riddle & Lanham

Be aware of alternate spellings in countries that use the same language

- e.g., theatre/theater, colour/color, and judgement/judgment.

  • Avoid creating or using new words; avoid slang.
  • Avoid two-word verbs, such as to pick up; use lift.

Riddle & Lanham

Use formal tone and maximum punctuation to assure clarity; do not use first names in letter salutations.
  • Conform carefully to rules of grammar; be careful of dangling participles and incomplete sentences.
  • Use more short, simple sentences than you would ordinarily use; avoid compound sentences.

Riddle & Lanham

Clarify the meaning of words with more than one meaning.
  • Adapt the tone of the letter to the reader if the cultural background is known

- e.g., use unconditional apologies if that is expected in the reader’s culture.

  • Capture the flavor of the language when writing to someone whose cultural background you know.

Riddle & Lanham

Remember also:
  • Avoid acronyms (ASAP), emoticons (), and “shorthand” (4 representing for).
  • Numbers are written differently in some countries

- e.g.: 3,000 may be written as 3.000 or 3000.

Intercultural Business Communication, 3rd ed., Chaney & Martin

tone and writing style
Tone and Writing Style
  • Tone and writing style are more formal and traditional in other countries than in U.S. companies.
  • Good news messages in the U.S. use the direct approach.
  • In the U.S. bad news messages use the indirect approach.
  • Latin Americans avoid bad news completely.
In the U.S.:
    • End negative letters on a positive note.
    • Avoid apologies.
  • In France:
    • Use formal beginnings and endings; endings tend to be flowery.
    • Apologize for mistakes and express regret for any inconvenience caused.
  • In Japan:
    • Begin letters with a comment on the season.
    • Present negative news in a positive manner.
letter formats
Letter Formats
  • Preferred styles in the U.S. are Blocked and Modified Blocked with standard or open punctuation.
  • The French use the indented style; they place the name of the originating city before the date.
  • Format of the inside address varies. In the U.S. the title and full name are placed on the first line, while in Germany the title (Herr) is on the first line and the full name on the second line.
The street name comes after the number in the U.S. but before the street number in Germany, Mexico, and South America.
  • Dates are written differently also. In the U.S. dates are written month/day/year (May 5, 2---); in other cultures, they may use the 5th of May, 2--- or 5 May 2---.
Salutations and closings are more formal in many other countries.
    • Salutations for German letters would be the English equivalent of Very Honored Mrs. Jones; complimentary closings would often be the English equivalent of Very respectfully yours.
  • The Japanese have a traditional format:
    • Begins with salutation followed by comment about season/weather
    • A remark about a gift, kindness, or patronage
    • Closes with best wishes for receiver's health or prosperity.
examples of japanese seasonal greetings
Examples of Japanese Seasonal Greetings
  • March:

- Spring has just begun, but the cold winds of winter are still with us.

  • June:

- Rice paddy fields are ready to be planted.

  • August:

- Indian summer is still around this week.

  • November:

- The tree on the boulevard is bare of leaves.


how an address is written shows the relationship
In Asian cultures, the family is the basic unit and society as a whole is the larger family:

JAPAN, Tokyo


168-46 Shimoyuki

47-25 Nanyodai

Nakamura, Yoko

In the West, the individual is most important and the self is the key:

Mr. John R. Smith

2350 Walnut Road

Memphis, TN 38152


How an address is written shows the relationship:
facsimiles fax
Facsimiles (FAX)
  • Fax may be more dependable than the mail in many cultures.
  • Fax would be written as you would write a letter.
  • Use a transmittal sheet so the operator knows to whom the FAX is directed, the sender, and the total number of pages.
  • Modify a bad-news letter so it will be effective for a reader who is Japanese, French, Spanish, or German.
  • Write a letter in English to someone who speaks English as a second language following the International English Guidelines.
electronic mail e mail
Electronic Mail (E-Mail)
  • Use a memorandum format; no inside address.
  • Observe proper e-mail courtesy
    • E.g.: Address the receiver by name in the opening sentence.
  • Keep messages concise and brief (maximum of two screens).
format for e mail
Format for E-Mail

XX: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

XXXX: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

XXXXXXX: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx






xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
















r sum and job search information
Résumé and Job Search Information
  • In the U.S., a 1- to 2-page résumé is preferred
    • Includes personal information, job objective, educational background, work experience, references, and cover letter. Excludes age, religion, gender, marital status, or a photo.
  • In Germany, résumés are 20-30 pages
    • Includes: copies of diplomas, photo, employment verification, names of parents, family, religious affiliation, financial obligations, and professional activities.
In France, the résumé includes: a cover letter, photograph, family information, age, hobbies and foreign language expertise.
    • Age discrimination is common and legal.
  • Résumés in China contain personal information: age, gender, and marital status.
  • In England, the résumé is 1 or 2 pages
    • Excludes photo, family information, military service, or any other personal information.
In Spain, the résumé is 2 pages in letter form
    • Includes: chronology of experience, military service, education, family information, professions of parents, clubs, and professional objective; picture is acceptable.
  • Prepare a resume to be sent to a multinational company applying for an overseas assignment in a country of your choice.
true or false
True or False?
  • Native speakers of a language will discover lexical errors more easily than syntactic errors.
  • The writing style of U.S. letters is more formal than that of most foreign correspondents.
  • The use of a buffer in bad-news messages is typical of the writing style of Latin Americans.
The Japanese try to present negative news in a positive manner.
  • Ending messages on a positive note is important in both U.S. and French letters.
  • The indented letter style for business letters is used by the French.
  • Salutations of German letters are more formal than in the U.S.
The Japanese traditionally begin letters with comments about the season or weather.
  • Résumés submitted to a German firm would typically be longer than those submitted to a U.S. firm.
  • Spanish résumés are typically in letter form.