Asian Business Discourse(s) Part I
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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Lexicographic evidence and oral translations of được in Vietnamese show its meanings as: “all right”, “agreed”, and “OK”. In reality, the undetermined range of probabilities in its meaning, imperceptible by non-native intuitions, are readily recognizable by natives. Not grasping what được means entails communication failures since to be told that something “can be done” induces a positive belief in English. This paper studies the meaning of được (can/OK) and compares it with chắc (là) được (probably can/OK) and chắc chắn được (certainly can/OK). It discusses the strategic and polite functions of được in business communication and shows that được is explorative as it sets the starting point for communication that could be furthered to reach a more conclusive result, explicitly lexicalized by chắc chắn được. It concludes that được is a non-committal “conflict-avoidance device” and “face-saver”. It is inconclusive that the farther the “distance” between the illocutors, the higher the degree of politeness, but supports the demand for ‘face’ over efficiency to a certain extent in the communicative style of the Vietnamese. Overall, it points to the need for long overdue analytic work on business discourse in cultural and social contexts, especially in lesser studied languages and cultures.


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