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How does the language used relate to some of the linguistic theories we have studied so far and how might the message the writer intends to achieve be understood and read by the target audience?


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The language used in the statement encompassed many of the linguistic theories that we have touched upon. We can see several examples of Saussure's theory of structural linguistics (Saussure, 1956). This theory puts a heavy emphasis on the oneness of signified (concept) and the signifier (sound image). The text makes use of a lot of signs (words) like shares, shareholders, dividends, interest rates, etc. which don't necessarily have a physical presence attached to them but are just concepts and ideas that have evolved. While a "share" means "a portion of an asset", the writer doesn't need to elaborate this signified sound image of what a share is. This is made possible by the oneness of signified and signifier that a language adopts as it evolves.

Voloshinov’s linguistic theory, which is a critique of Saussure’s theory, focuses on the subjective and individualistic nature of language. Unlike Saussure’s theory which decomposes language into a collection of abstract objects, Voloshinov’s theory conveys that many of those abstract objects tend to have different meanings for different individuals (Guarda et. al, 2018). There are many examples in the text that are positive examples of this theory. One such term is "legacy problems", which if not elaborated can be comprehended in many different ways. Another example is the "right management team" where the idea of a good management team can be very different for different individuals, countries, and cultures.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis revolves around the idea that different languages evolve differently not just in the grammatical or lexical fashion, but in the way, different thoughts and concepts can be perceived very differently in different languages. In the text, the chairman talks about the idea of transitioning RBS as the "best customer-focused” bank in the UK (Boleda, 2020). To an East Asian individual reading the text, his/her expectations from the best customer-focused bank in the UK may be much different for an individual that resides in the UK. Even within the UK, its meaning may be much different for people belonging to different financial and social statuses. Even for people belonging to the same social status but living in a different era, the meaning of the best customer-focused bank may differ.

The writer wants to put forward the narrative of an institution that is going through a transition phase and is looking to solve the problems it had in the past. The writer has made effective use of the Semitic Thought Discourse Pattern to achieve this (Kaplan, 1966). While people can generally agree with the sentiment put forward by the writer, they can also focus on some red flags which the writer brushed aside without much explanation. Most of these positive things discussed by the writer can be interpreted as one of the face-saving strategies adopted by the writer (Hu, 1944, Brown & Levinson, 1987). One such point is the overuse of the terms like "legacy problems" and the concept of "unpredictable economic situation", which may induce the idea that the writer doesn't account for the woes of the institution to any of the problems they may be facing internally at the moment. Another such point is that the writer doesn't explain why the institution failed the Bank of England's stress test. There are instances where the writer has made promises for the future without any action plan to achieve them.

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