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Статья опубликована в рамках: Научного журнала «Студенческий» № 13(225)

Рубрика журнала: Филология

Секция: Лингвистика

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Библиографическое описание:
Lunina E., Matveeva N. LINGUISTIC AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND AMERICANS AND THEIR ROLE IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATION // Студенческий: электрон. научн. журн. 2023. № 13(225). URL: https://sibac.info/journal/student/225/284369 (дата обращения: 22.09.2023).


Lunina Ekaterina

3th year student, Logistics and Supply chain management, State University of Management,

Russia, Moscow

Matveeva Natalya

3th year student, Logistics and Supply chain management, State University of Management,

Russia, Moscow

Sukhareva Natalia

научный руководитель,

Scientific supervisor, senior lecturer of the Department of Foreign Languages, State University of Management,

Russia, Moscow



Лунина Екатерина Сергеевна

студент 3 курса, Логистика и управление цепями поставок, Государственный университет управления,

РФ, г. Москва

Матвеева Наталья Андреевна

студент 3 курса, Логистика и управление цепями поставок, Государственный университет управления,

РФ, г. Москва

Сухарева Наталья Александровна

научный руководитель, старший преподаватель кафедры иностранных языков, Государственный университет управления,

РФ, г. Москва



This article deals with main characteristics and differences in culture, mentality, behaviour and perceptions of the British and Americans. The impact of these characteristics on the effectiveness of intercultural communication is undeniable and should be taken into account not only in business correspondence, but also in personal business communication.


Keywords: mentality, national differences, culture, language, business communication, British, American.


In today's world of international communication full-fledged communicative competence, which is one of the priority goals of foreign language teaching, requires the understanding and consideration of intercultural differences. In this context, teaching English outside of language schools clearly demonstrates the organic link between language and culture. Students learn about the cultural diversity of today's world from business English textbooks, where they often find brief information about different types of culture and examples of national identities and traditions. This fragmented information helps them to master English and, in turn, to extend and deepen it if needed to meet their practical intercultural communication needs.

When it comes to business English, it is a carrier and transmitter of global and, above all, Western business culture. People begin to adapt to the basics by learning English for making presentations, organising meetings as well as negotiating. At the same time, they gain some insight into the culture of countries such as the UK and the US. To what extent are there cultural differences between the UK and the US, and to what extent should they be considered in business situations?

In terms of language as part of culture, it is impossible not to mention the existence of differences between the British and American English. Phonetic, grammatical, orthographic, lexical and semantic differences are well known. However, it should be noted that they do not significantly impede understanding, except in special cases where words or expressions are used.

In modern speech, these differences are often blurred, and there are quite a few instances where the British language is inferior to the American version. For instance, some articles and prepositions are dropped with fewer letters (e.g., program instead of programme), and business English often uses shorter phrases and phrases that are easier to remember (e.g. IPO or initial public offering instead of flotation). Language is now becoming more economical in nature, which can be viewed as one of the reasons. We can also see this change in language as a result of globalisation, in which American multinationals play a major role.

In general, it can be argued that there are quite a few differences in pronunciation varies national cultures. For example, in England (and in other parts of Britain) even businessmen do not start talking about money and payment because of shyness. If necessary, such matters are discussed exclusively in writing.

As a result of the above-mentioned differences, a «cultural barrier» may occur between the participants of communication even if all linguistic norms are respected. Valentina Maslova illustrates the idea with a story of an English conductor, who leads a German orchestra and does not get what he wants from the orchestra. He asked his German teacher how to say in German «Listen, I think it would be better, if we played this way», the teacher advised to say directly: «You should play that way» [2 p. 31-32].

There is an invisible but insurmountable cultural barrier between the British and Americans for effective business communication. Researchers from Bristol University even conducted a study that confirms it. If you work with both British and Americans, you might like to know about this research. The raw data was collected from Americans living or working in the UK and Britons living or working in the US. The former stated that the British tend to beat around the bush and are annoyingly inefficient in their approach to business communication. The British, on the other hand, find the Americans sometimes rude, insensitive, and too straightforward.

To test the validity of these mutually unfavourable stereotypes and beliefs, 13 American and British managers working in American companies around Bristol were interviewed. They all agreed that the communication styles of the two cultures were very different, especially in terms of speech manners. However, they attributed the British attempt to solve problems in roundabout ways and their expanded vocabulary makes it possible for them to explain and describe things more detailed than the Americans did, in an effort to eliminate awkwardness. One interviewee also noted that the British perceive Americans' frankness as a rejectionist attitude.

It is also worth noting that the British tend to have a more pessimistic outlook on life and problem solving. Here are some typical American statements on the subject:

The British approach frustrates me - I don't want to hear why things can't be done... The British are inefficient - it's hard to get problems solved. It drives me crazy.

The British managers are not left in debt:

The British find optimism, enthusiasm annoying... A large number of the British feel the American approach is simplistic... At times these differences jar on people's nerves [5, p. 394-402].

However, a country's mentality and culture can also manifest itself in written communication, not only in the spoken word. This is the most evident in written letters. The author was inspired to write this article by years of teaching students how to write such letters using samples from authoritative Anglo-American textbooks.

It is this form of business letter, which is essentially an advertisement designed to sell itself, that best suits the American mentality, which is fundamentally at odds with the British mentality. The British never express their strong feelings and desires. They are reserved in their utterances and tend to express their attitudes towards things in a less expressive way. They also organically reject ostentatious behaviour and tend to avoid showing off their accomplishments. They also have a negative attitude towards aggressive advertising, which they consider American.

An American manual, Business Writing Makeovers, suggests the following as a good example of an application letter:

I will bring to the job:

- An excellent track record with...

- A firm grasp of the legal issues...

- A solid background in...

- Highly developed interpersonal skills... even under pressure.

- A wide network of contacts...

I hope you agree that these qualifications are an outstanding match with the criteria for the new Senior Grants Administrator... [9, p. 7].

It is unlikely that an English manager would want to see the author of such a letter among his employees, despite all his outstanding achievements described by him.

According to the American textbook «Business Letters the Easy Way» the application letter should reflect your ambition and enthusiasm, but at the same time you should be modest. But would it be considered modest enough if an Englishman said that he foresees all expectations of his future employer and is prepared to meet them:

Thus I... believe I am prepared to anticipate and meet all your expectations? [7, p. 98].

In the UK example, the tone of the letter is more subdued and the wording is smoother and more verbose. They usually contain objective facts about work experience and qualifications, without any self-evaluation or self-praise on the part of the candidate. The general tone is as follows:

As you can see from the enclosed curriculum vitae, I have selling experience in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics - a very competitive field... Your six months' training scheme should certainly help me to devote the best of my ability to your company, particularly since my educational qualifications are higher than those you require [8, p. 82].

American personnel managers would be less impressed by this kind of letter because they think that their communication behaviour during interviews is based on the principle of «self-praise».  They believe that it is important to draw the employer's attention to your strengths and not to minimise them. Otherwise, you won't look very interested in getting the job.

US experts advise putting a phone number and a convenient time to call at the end of your letter or to say that you will call, sometimes giving a specific date and time. In the UK, it is common to write in a non-pushy way: «I would be happy to arrange an interview at the most convenient time for you».

For successful communication, it is useful to know and be aware of the distinctive features of the Anglo-American style of business writing in business letters. However, it is particularly important in recruitment letters, where ignoring the relevant rules may prevent you from launching your career.

It is also worth bearing in mind the slight differences in writing style. British letters, for instance, either have a comma after the address or no punctuation. The Americans, on the other hand, put a colon. If such details and spelling are not observed, it may be perceived as carelessness or lack of language knowledge.

However, according to Russian and foreign authors, purely linguistic errors are perceived much more mildly by native speakers than linguacultural ones.



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