Monolingual organizational structure is hard to get today owing to the complexity and dynamism of many corporate and business environments.
It becomes more challenging with institutions of higher learning where staff and students always come from different ethno-cultural and linguistic backgrounds, thereby, generating a multilingual organizational set-up. In this short essay, I focus on organizational communication in a multicultural university set-up such as Skyline University Nigeria (SUN), a sister university to Skyline University College, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Considering the international status of the university, it is imperative to use a language which will serve the communicative purposes of staff and students. The success and progress of an organization is certain with effective communication which is intelligible and rewarding. In an organization such as Skyline University Nigeria, language and communication require conscious actions to ensure organizational peace and harmony. If what is said by an individual does not enjoy mutual intelligibility from others, there will be a misinterpretation of what is said or written.
That English is the common language of communication at Skyline University Nigeria does not give us liberty to use the language out of context or in a wrong context that can heat up the system. The language users (management, faculty members, support staff and students) at Skyline University Nigeria should understand that language study and use occur with the following features:
i. Grammar or linguistics: the determination of the distributional units in language phenomena and the rules for combining these into larger and more complex units;
ii. Semantics: the determination of the rules for interpreting linguistic structures, beginning at the world level and ending at the sentence level, where linguistics traditionally sets its limits, or extending to the most complex texts, as people like Benveniste and Ricoeur insist.
iii. Pragmatics: the determination of the interactive context, the interrelationship between the user and his language, between the language and the cultural environment, and between the persons among whom the language is exchanged as message-bearing actions.(A. N. Akwanya, 2005:9)
Akwanya’s third view reveals the intricacies and functionalities of language in an organization for peace, harmony and effective service delivery. When we are using English language for interactions, we need to consider the cognitive and psycho-emotional variables of the speaker/writer and the audience.
To this end, there is a need to be conscious of the lexical choice, syntactic structure and semantic implications to reduce the incidence of communication break down and misinterpretation. We need to note that what is said is as important as how it is said.
Akwanya, A. N. (2005). Language and the Habit of Thought. Enugu: New Generation Books.
Dr. Azeez Akinwumi Sesan, is a Senior Lecturer in the department of English at Skyline University Nigeria. He has a PhD. in African Literature with emphasis on Drama and Film Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
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