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July 2016

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Journal of Business and Technical Communication



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speech code, ethnography of communication, cultural communication, online ethnography, online training, oral communication


This article examines the oral communication training that took place in Eloqi, a virtual language-learning community. Eloqi (a pseudonym) was a for-profit start-up that built and operated a proprietary Web-based, voice-enabled platform connecting English-language learners in China with trainers in the United States. While it existed, Eloqi’s unique platform was used to deliver short, one-on-one lessons designed to improve students’ oral English communication skills. Using the ethnography of communication and speech codes theory, a theoretical–methodological approach, the author presents an analysis of the speech code, or code of communicative conduct, employed at Eloqi. This code of English logic, which Eloqi’s community members associated with native English speech, comprised six locally defined rules for oral English speech; namely, speech had to be organized, succinct, spontaneously composed rather than rehearsed, original and honest, proactively improved, and positive. This article discusses the significance of this code, particularly as it pertains to cultural communication, and concludes with some implications for researchers and practitioners in business and technical communication.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article that was published in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, volume 30, issue 3, July 2016. The Version of Record is available online here:
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