This chapter presents a study of the expression of causality in Company Reports and in the relative CEOs’ Letters, and its discursive implications. It is part of a research programme exploring the options offered by the integration of micro- and macro-levels of analysis in linguistic investigation. The expression of causality in Annual Company Reports (ACRs) is an especially critical discursive issue as the main purpose of these documents is to account for a company’s performance and priorities in the relevant year, and this necessarily involves identifying the causal factors that have led to the current state of affairs. So, the identification of the causes of certain situations and events may be crucial not only as a starting point for decisions concerning the future line of conduct, determining whether current policies should be extended, modified or discontinued altogether, but also for the Company’s reputation, contributing to image-building or performing a face-keeping function when the results are poor. From the perspective of this research, the genre examined here offers a further element of interest as in the texts analysed the official claim of objectivity required by corporate ethics and – in some countries – by statutory obligations is often covertly accompanied by obvious promotional and persuasive purposes. Thus ACRs are particularly suitable to explore the discursive uses – and thus the pragmatic implications – of ‘ordinary’ syntactic constructions. The study illustrated in this chapter was conducted on a representative corpus of 98 ACRs and the relative Shareholders’ Letters issued between 2001 and 2004, comprising a total of 3,879,174 tokens. From a methodological point of view, the analysis relies primarily on discourse analysis, also using genre analysis as a background, as well as on the literature on causal constructions in English. Wherever useful, recourse is made to data obtained by means of automatic text interrogation routines (Wordsmith Tools 4.0). The results of the research establish the idea that to a great extent the linguistic expression of causality is an inherently evaluative process, which puts at the writer’s disposal a powerful instrument to foreground certain aspects, while putting others in the background or leaving them in the shadow altogether. In light of this notion, the analysis of texts in the ACR corpus shows that the choice of the linguistic construction used in each case to encode a causal relation enables the drafter of the Report to control the causal force conferred upon the proposition expressed as well as the prominence of the actions involved, e.g. by giving preference to one specific conjunction over others (e.g. because instead of since) or by choosing a nominal construction rather than a clausal one. Thanks to an accurate choice of the lexico-grammatical features used to express causality, subjective motivation can be presented as an objective fact, situations deliberately enacted by the management as circumstantial and thus unavoidable, and causal relations can be textually postulated between elements or facts which are not actually connected in the real world, etc. It can thus be concluded that causal expression is a powerful discursive tool in a writer’s hands.
|Titolo:||The Use of Discursive Features Expressing Causal Relations in Annual Company Reports|
|Autori interni:||GARZONE, GIULIANA ELENA (Primo)|
|Parole Chiave:||discourse analysis ; English syntax ; causal relations ; annual company reports|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore L-LIN/12 - Lingua e Traduzione - Lingua Inglese|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2006|
|Tipologia:||Book Part (author)|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||03 - Contributo in volume|