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Genre Analysis of Letters to Shareholders in the American Corporate Annual Report

Author: LiangXinQuan
Tutor: DongHongXue
School: Yanshan University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: Letter to Shareholders genre analysis move systemic functional grammar
CLC: H0-05
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 31
Quote: 0
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Abstract


The Corporate Annual Report is a principal document used by most public companiesto disclose corporate information. The Letter to Shareholders, which usually fronts thereport, provides an in-depth review of the corporation’s performance during the past yearand discusses plans for the future. Its aim is to assure the present shareholders andpossible investors of the corporation’s development potentiality and try to build up ormaintain a favorable corporate image. With China’s entry into WTO and the expansion ofeconomic globalization, an increasing number of Chinese public corporations have beenlisted on the U.S. stock market and, therefore, are obliged to submit annual reportaccording to the American legal regulations. The importance of the annual report and theLetter to Shareholders lends itself to careful study. Although much research has beencarried out by the accounting specialists, linguistics analysis of such institutionallyimportant language use is lacking.This study is based on theories of two major schools of genre analysis: the Englishfor Specific Purpose School and the Australian School. Based on Swale and Bhatia’s genretheory, this study studies the genre features of Letter to Shareholders within the frameworkof the move theory, that is, to identify different moves and steps and try to figure out thetypical move pattern. Within the framework of Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics,this study is to study the language material from the perspectives of transitivity processand thematic progression pattern. Then the study generalizes respective distributionregularity of transitivity processes and thematic progression pattern of this discourse. Aslast the study summarizes the genre features of the Letter to Shareholders and dig out thereasons why this genre displays those features and lay out advisory translating and writingpatterns of this business discourse for future reference. This thesis is intended to revealhow, from the linguistic perspective, the CEO, presidents or chairman of the boardevaluate their companies’ performance of the previous year and project a positivecorporate image, which are the two major purposes of the Corporate Annual Report.Through the macro-structural analysis, the basic organization of a four-movestructure of the Letter to Shareholders is established based on Bhatia’s model. The function of each move and their subsequent steps are introduced in detail. The statisticalanalysis results have revealed that in the perspective of transitivity system, except for thebehavioral process, all other five processes have been found occurring in the corpus. Thematerial process and the relational process enjoy the highest frequencies. In the aspect ofthematic progression pattern, the Independent Pattern, the Constant Theme Pattern and theLinear Pattern are the most actively used ones.This research is motivated by the fast development in the field of ESP (English forSpecific Purpose). It is believed that it is beneficial for relevant readers to be linguisticallyequipped while reading and composing the Corporate Annual Report.

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