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Cultural and Rhetorical Adaptations for South American Audiences

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This article explores intercultural communication in one multinational organization in Quito, Ecuador where U.S. and South American personnel developed documentation and instructional texts. At this organization, the communication patterns of many of the South Americans were more oral, contextual, concrete, personal, and narrative, while the communication patterns of U.S. personnel were more written, acontextual, universal, abstract, and analytical. These different patterns corresponded to contrastive roles and purposes for writing and orality and, therefore, different assumptions, patterns, and uses of technical communication. Many of the U.S. communicators assumed a written purpose of communication or a need or exigency arising from circumstances that writing usually solved. Thus, the audience-author interactions were based mostly on written, rather than oral dynamics. And the assessment of information needs, document design, and content organization seemed to be developed from and for written literacies. On the other hand, many South American personnel assumed that orality would be the appropriate medium for many communicative needs, further reinforcing their collective and interpersonal approach to organizational behavior. Thus, they often assessed information needs, document design, and content organization based on this oral literacy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 1999

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