Barry Thatcher

Orality and writing in Latin America and USA professional communication

Barry Lyman Thatcher

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1997 pp: 250
  • Advisor: Lauer, Janice
  • Source: DAI-A 58/12, p. 4635, Jun 1998
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Sociology, Industrial And Labor Relations (0629); Language, Modern (0291)
  • ProQuest Document Number: 304359245
  • ISBN: 0-591-70584-2
  • UMI Number: AAT 9819046


    • This study investigates professional communication in two USA/LA contexts, focusing on how USA and LA personnel negotiated cultural, rhetorical, and linguistic differences to carry out workplace objectives. The study examined four cases of intercultural professional communication in two international corporations in Quito, Ecuador. At these two sites, many of the Latin Americans approached professional communication in a predominantly oral tradition with roots in theoretical and often rote educational practices, and family-like managerial systems. Thus, many Latin Americans brought to the rhetorical situation different purposes and audience-author relationships for writing and orality. Writing was used mostly as an archival and safety system, and orality and oral-like writing were the predominant means for exploring issues, defining relationships, and making decisions. This predominance of orality, in turn, reflected and reinforced collective, particular, and hierarchical values. On the other hand, many USA personnel in the two organizations reflected more ‘written’ literacy and organizational cultures. Writing and written-like orality were the predominant means for exploring and defining issues and relationships and carrying out workplace objectives. This predominance of writing also reflected and reinforced the values of rule of law, equality, universals, and abstract and procedural thinking. These differences were radically apparent in many professional communication scenarios at the two sites; they were also deeply rooted, and not easily reconciled. The study underscores the importance of understanding writing in light of its relationships with other media–especially orality.