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Let's keep it simple

By Roos Beerkens


In the following eighty pages a qualitative research will be presented in which is shown to what extend English in a functional situation can be used on different levels for different audiences. In today’s world globalization is an undeniable fact, and with that comes the increased use of the English language in many daily situations.\ud English for native English speakers can be a lot different from English for non-native speakers. In this thesis technical corporate documentation is used to test the different levels of English. As for non-native speakers, the German audience is chosen, which means that a level of English is tested that is adjusted to the German language and culture. The main question that is stated in this research is the following:\ud \ud “To what extent do German native speakers, as non-native speakers of English, and English native speakers appreciate a different level of functional English in a technical corporate brochure?”\ud \ud The reason for choosing the German language and culture comes from the main theory that is used in this thesis; the translation theory from German linguist Juliane House. This theory is combined with research results from O’Brien (2003), who is an expert in Controlled Languages. Together with work from Callies (2002) a model is produced in which linguistic tokens are linked to cultural dimensions. The dimensions are taken from research results from House; the linguistic tokens are a combination of O’Brien and Callies’ work. The model is adapted to parts of a technical corporate brochure from Akatherm International B.V., a company that produces drainage systems. With the model it is possible to produce two manipulated text; one in which the linguistic tokens are adapted to the English dimensions and the other in which the linguistic tokens are adapted to the German dimensions. These manipulated texts provide the material for an experiment among English and German native speakers. The participants give their appreciation for both versions by applying the plus-minus method. This method is followed by a thorough depth interview for each individual participant.\ud The results are remarkable; they show a clear difference in appreciation between the native English speakers and the native German speakers. Four of the six English native speakers show a clear preference for the ‘native English version’ and all six interviewed native German speakers show a clear preference for the ‘native German version’. Native English speakers prefer the use of a third person singular, use of synonyms and a rather long length of sentences. The native German speakers on the other hand have a preference for the second person singular, use of present tense and active voice, short sentences and no synonyms. These results overall agree with the expectations.\ud The conclusion of this research is that there is absolutely a reason to examine different levels of English. Globalization is increasing in this world, where the English is taken over, but where we also should be careful to keep corporate and governmental documentation accessible for non-native speakers. The results from this research are hopefully a motive to continue research in this field

Topics: Letteren, functional language use, English
Year: 2006
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