Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 13, March 2007

Jing Liu

Intercultural Communication in Letters of Recommendation.


The letter of recommendation (LR) as a means to communicate across different cultures for the purpose of applying for entering a university can be problematic. Using contrastive rhetoric analytic framework, this paper compares LRs written by Chinese and English native speaker professionals. Discussion of culturally situated interpretations of the LRs is based on interviews with university professors who have been on the admission committee. The findings show similarities in macro discourse structure but differences in discourse content between the LRs, which suggest that successful intercultural communication in LRs requires meticulous dialogue with the ‘other’ according to Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism. Unequal power relationship between writer and reader is also discussed from critical discourse analysis perspective.

Key words: Letters of recommendation; intercultural communication; dialogism

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