ERIC Number: ED393114
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
The English of Business Is the Business of English.
Versluis, Edward B.
Three arguments lead to the conclusion that the English of business is the business of English. First, reluctance to fully appreciate the English of Business stems in part from a serious misunderstanding about the development of written language in the Western tradition. While studying folktales and the origins of myths has made an awareness of "oral literacy" common in our profession, what do most people know about the origins of writing? Even at the height of the great Myceneaen culture of the second millennium B.C., the age of Homer's heroes, the only writing in use on the Greek mainland was solely for recordkeeping. Another argument stems from answering the question of what is the English of Business. The answer can be traced to the matter-of-fact Latin texts of two engineers in Augustus' empire, Frontinus and Vitruvius. Frontinus wrote about the flow of water, the spigots, in the loving details that could be expected from a man devoted to plumbing and civil service. Vitruvius' work is just as detailed about the business of constructing Greek style temples. He is matter-of-fact, lucid, and influential. These examples suggest that instead of being relegated to the realm of hastily scribbled notes, commercial, technical, and artistic concerns all elicited the mature genius of the classical Greeks, Imperial Romans, and Renaissance Europeans. The third argument flows from an overlooked fact: English is the world's language of choice. There are more people using English as a second language than as a native language. English has risen in prominence, not only through Shakespeare's plays and the King James Bible but also through England's participation in many foreign wars. Today, respect for various discourse communities, including scientific, technical, and business communities, exists, as do subtle differences in the writing process and the sense of audience. (Contains 27 references.) (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Classical Period; Historical Background
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (45th, Nashville, TN, March 16-19, 1994).