chapter  2
Business communication
ByVijay Bhatia, Aditi Bhatia
Pages 15

Business communication, as used in this chapter, refers to English business communication and English for Business Purposes (EBP), and represents a development that integrates three main areas of study. The first significant area is English for Specific Purposes (ESP), which draws its strength from linguistics, particularly from sociolinguistics, through the analyses of functional variation in language use, and curriculum studies. In fact, the ESP tradition can be considered an outcome of analysis of various forms of academic and disciplinary discourses within the framework of register analysis, and more recently, genre analysis (Swales 1990), which may be considered the second major area of study that has influenced business communication. The third main tradition, which has significantly influenced current thinking in business communication, is communication studies, which has several dimensions, some of which include organizational communication, management communication, and corporate communication, all of which are often grouped under professional communication. Unlike ESP, which draws its inspiration from language description, none of these rather different subareas of communication studies have been seriously influenced by studies in discourse and genre analysis until recently. Instead, they have traditionally drawn their strength from various communication theories. The focus in these individual dimensions of professional communication has been primarily on text-external factors, including context. It is interesting to note that of these major traditions, two at least, i.e. ESP and communication studies, developed almost independently of each other, and remained so for a long time, the latter focusing primarily on first language users, and the former targeting second or foreign language users. Register and genre analysis developed when the field of applied linguistics became seriously interested in all forms of academic and professional genres, including those associated with business contexts. However, in recent years, it has been taken more seriously by both the traditions, that is, ESP as well as communication studies, especially professional communication, management communication, organizational communication and, certainly business communication. This can be represented and summarized as follows (Figure 2.1):

We would now like to give more substance to this view of business communication as emerging from the recent works published in these three rather distinct areas of study and application. Let us begin with English for Business Purposes.