Exploratory investigation into the practice of communicating to publics using English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) by Finnish companies

University essay from Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: This thesis examines public relations (PR) communications that use English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) from leading Finnish companies. It analyses a corpus of 90 press releases from 15 export-active companies for linguistic usage, drawing on elements of linguistic theory. In addition, a limited narrative is based on personal interviews to determine typical procedures that are involved in PR content creation. It should have relevance to all who use ELF in a business context, but be of special interest to those involved with PR and marketing. It may also have some relevance to internal international business communications and linguistics. The study was motivated by three factors: how English is a dominant global language that is being used by companies in other countries as an intermediary language, prior research of how Finnish companies use PR and communications within their export activities, and extensive observation obtained whilst working as a journalist, dealing with companies from all around the world. It is believed that many companies may not be communicating efficiently and effectively when using ELF. Even when they do communicate and content may appear to be grammatically correct, its efficacy may be muted, inhibiting audience comprehension and other consequential actions. The research noted that certain linguistic elements were over-represented, which could potentially inhibit communication and comprehension. The resolution is not necessarily drastic and could only deliver wider benefits where implemented. Recommendations include closer attention is made concerning linguistic construction, broader additional research is conducted into the global phenomena and the possible creation of an operational framework to assist deployment of ELF-friendly textual communications, especially within the PR/marketing field.

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