ENG4330 - The Economics of Language

Year of Study:3 or 4
Credit Units: 3
Duration: 45hours
Prerequisites: ENG1200 Introduction to Linguistics,
ENG3200 Meaning and Language
and/ or
ENG3230 Language and Society
or with special permission from Instructor and approval by Department Head
Module Description
The realms of commerce and economics include a wide range of contexts in which language is used in particular ways and functions for which particular varieties of language have evolved. In addition, language use in the contexts of business and commerce is very sensitive to social incentives and pressures. This module is designed for advanced students who are already familiar with general concepts from the fields of semantics, pragmatics and sociolinguistics, and who want to explore in more depth the social uses of language in the contexts of business and economics. We will discuss specific styles and varieties of language relevant for the business world, for example: language use between companies and their customers in advertising, sales and customer support; language use between companies and investors; language use within a company between co-workers and between managers/bosses and employees; and the bureaucratic and legal styles of language that are necessary for modern companies. We will look at language use in successful companies as well as failed or failing companies of different sizes and from different sectors and industries, using a variety of sources for information, including newspaper articles, magazine articles, trade journals, advertisements, press releases, company websites, internal documents and policies and others. As part of this module, students will collect much of the information for discussion on their own, through library and internet research as well as field research. Through these discussions students will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the essential roles that language plays in modern businesses and economies.
Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

  1. Describe and write about language use and variation in business and economic contexts, using appropriate linguistic tools and representations.

  2. Design, conduct and present a research project on an issue related to language use in a context related to business or economics.

  3. Describe and write about the social factors that are relevant for language variation and use in business contexts.

  4. Apply theories and concepts of sociolinguistics to contexts related to economics, business and commerce and to social situations in Hong Kong.

  5. Use library and electronic resources to conduct original academic research.