In search of commonalities : some linguistic and rhetorical features of business reports as a genre

Lorrita YEUNG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The present study analyzes 22 authentic business reports in an attempt to identify textual features that are typical of business reports as a genre. The analysis shows that there are certain characteristics which distinguish business reports from other related genres such as scientific reports, of which RAs are a typical example. There are also features which business reports have in common with other academic and professional writing, under the generic title of "analytical exposition" (Martin, 1989). In line with genre theory, the particular communicative functions of business reports as a form of "social action" (Miller, 1984; Bloor, 1998) seem to have given rise to a set of unique features. Such features include the funnel-shaped overall structure, topical organization, lack of emphasis on description of methods, and heavy stress on recommendations. The micro-rhetorical moves also follow a distinctive pattern geared towards the making of recommendations. The pragmatic goal, together with its rhetoric, is reflected in the lexico-grammatical choices, including the use of modals, nominalization, and evaluative lexis. Some previously observed generic characteristics of business reports such as "subjectivity" have not been borne out by the present corpus. While the present study is primarily qualitative, some statistical counts have been conducted to obtain clearer patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-179
Number of pages24
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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