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Malena Samaniego 1st year Phd, SLAT

SLAT 615, Fall 09 Final Project

Genre-based prose translation pedagogy and the development of productive textual competence: Insights from L2 writing studies

Introduction: The concept of genre as a semiotic tool and category for socially situated communication and action has become very popular in all pedagogy concerned with the development of literacy skills. Challenged to achieve advanced L2 (productive) discursive competency, teaching of prose translation (into an L2) is no exception. However, the implementation of genre theory in translation pedagogy over the last two decades has been rather random in non-European translation classrooms and its effects on the development of translation competence have hardly been empirically tested. This project will attempt to gain insights into the effectiveness of genrebased translation pedagogy, particularly as it claims to enhance L2 communicative and textual competence and overall translation expertise. I am particularly interested in the process by which learners with different levels and kinds of (bi)literacy skills benefit from genre-based methodology and what are the best implementations of this approach in the translation classroom. Echoing language, writing and communication studies in general, one of the two important theoretical breakthroughs in modern translation studies with significant implications for training has been the shift from the product and sentence level focus to that of process, communicative functions and discourse. The other contribution has come from post-colonial and feminist studies and has attempted promote an expansion of the focus on text to the ideological system of thoughts in which all discursive (re)production is embedded. While the latter debate has been staged in the US, communicative and functionalist text-based theories of translation originated in Europe and have not fully permeated to the new recently emerging US undergraduate translation classrooms which are being joined by foreign language as well as heritage language speakers: a bilingually heterogeneous population, with potentially diverse literacy skills and language needs. With this project I hope to echo the pressing call of some translation study scholars for more empirical support for communicative process- and learner-centered translation pedagogies. In addition, by addressing the development of prose translation competence through the insights gained from the prolific and diverse field of L2 writing studies I also expect to contribute to a more detailed understanding of (prose and hopefully later also directinto an L1) translation trainees diverse bilingual profiles, needs and processes of textual competence acquisition.

Translation into an L2 and genre-based translation pedagogy Beeby, A. (1996) La traduccin inversa. (57-78) In Hurtado Albir, A. (ed.) La enseanza de la traduccin, Castell: Editorial Universidad Jaume I. Prose (into L2) translation has been part of many translators daily tasks since antiquity and yet it has also systematically been ignored in translation theory. Beeby calls for acknowledgement of

its important share in contemporary professional translation and proposes a training model for translators working from Spanish into English as a FL, however, valid for any other pair of languages. Her proposal is founded on the pragmatic and communicative nature of the need for professional (prose and any) translation services, and therefore also on European functionalistcommunicative approaches to the translation process, formulated over the last two decades. However, her proposal also rests on the particular challenges of prose translation in terms of student translators developing linguistic and discursive (or textual) competences in a FL, specifically their ability to simultaneously activate morpho-syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and semiotic knowledge during the reformulation of the (target) text. An argument is made for the need for trainers to clearly define the priorities and requirements of the task commissioned as well as to focus on the standardized genres most frequently requested in each local professional market. Translation problems and training tasks are to be isolated and sequenced around themes which seek to highlight the few principles governing the process of translation and to be discovered and internalized by students through practice. Montalt, P, Ezpeleta Piorno, and Garca Izquierdo, I. (2008) The Acquisition of Translation Competence through Textual Genre, Translation Journal, 12 (4). The nature of the knowledge, skills and (expert) attitudes necessary to perform quality professional translations is being extensively researched in translation studies. Even though specific accounts and terms vary, there is agreement that translation competence is made up of various sub-components of which a crucial one is a communicative and textual competence in the pair of languages involved. Based on significant points of convergence between the translation competence and the conceptualization of the category of text genreincluding their social situatedness, and purposive and specialized (disciplinary or occupational) nature,genre knowledge is posited as a key tool for developing translators communicative and textual subcompetence, as is demonstrated for each of the threesocio-communicative, formal and cognitivebasic dimensions of the concept of genre. Defined as the general ability to interpret and reproduce texts in a manner appropriate to diverse socio-linguistic contexts and compatible with the features and conventions of the target cultures (sub)genres, translation competence will be enhanced by genre theorys focus on text situationality (including participants status, relationships, purposes, values, and knowledge), its conventional nature expressed in its texture, and acceptability, and its routine-automatic processing of genre as templates for communicative (inter)action. Jennings, S. (2005) La traduccin transgenrica en la case de inversa (177-188) In Garca Izquierdo, I. (ed.) El gnero textual y la traduccin. Reflexiones tericas y aplicaciones pedaggicas, Bern: Peter Lang. Prose translation stands out from direct translation (into the translators L1) in no other than a redistribution of certain translation sub-competences among the two working languages and the comprehension and production phases of the translation process, namely the communicative and textual competences. Jennings invites prose translator trainers to have their students capitalize on a translators value of their L1 linguistic and discursive competence as automatized and

procedural knowledge which is made evident when confronted to prose translation and also gives her the ability to distinguish in their L1 acceptable from inacceptable language and text. The call is to use these syntactic, lexical and rhetorical contrastive skills to develop generic competence in the FL and thereby also prose translation competencies. He specifically proposes transgeneric translation exercises into an L2 consisting of the transformation of a source text into texts belonging to different kinds of standardized genres (like recipes, power point presentations, or particular kinds of novel). The aim of these pseudo translation exercises is to put genre recognition competence in L1 at the service of genre production competence in L2 by focusing on how things are said as a function of contextual factors and conventions rather than what is actually said. Second Language Writing: research on process and genre-based pedagogies. Silva, T. (1993), Toward an Understanding of the Distinct Nature of L2 Writing: The ESL Research and Its Implications, TESOL Quarterly, 27(4), pp. 657-677 72 reports of empirical research comparing L1 and L2 writing are reviewed with attention to findings as to the composing process and texts features. L2 writing is strategically, rhetorically, and linguistically different from L1 writing: it is more effortful, simpler and less effective. The composing process involves less planning, more difficulty in the setting of goals and the organization of material; and less fluency and productivity during transcription. Discursively, texts present different patterns and are less appropriately oriented to the readership. Linguistically they are less sophisticated and controlled and style use differs from L1 writing. From a theoretical point of view, these findings raise the need of a distinct multicultural framework to describe L2 writing which could enrich monocultural understandings of composing in a native language. On a practical level, they posit the need for distinctive L2 achievement standards and evaluation criteria as well as a wider tolerance and training for rhetorical, linguistic and socio-cultural differences. Moreover, research needs to be more abundant, balanced (in addressing strategic, rhetorical and linguistic concerns; combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies; expanding age ranges and levels of education) and more rigorous (larger samples, more realistic tasks, more accurate reporting and more information on statistical significance of findings). Matsuda, P. (2003). Second language writing in the twentieth century: A situated historical perspective. In B. Kroll (ed.), Exploring the Dynamics of Second Language Writing (pp. 15-34). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. This paper reviews the development of second language (L2) writing studies from a historical and interdisciplinary perspective. Contested as a mere subfield of L2 studies only responsible for the development of L2 teaching knowledge, L2 writing research is now seen as an interdisciplinary and symbiotic field fed from related areas (like English composition studies, applied linguistics, education, and psychology) as well as contributing to these disciplines with its own insights. The field grew in the US out of the need to serve an increasing post-WWII population of international ESL college students. Reflecting a disciplinary division of labor, L2 writing remained from the 1960s to well into the 1990s under the aegis of L2 studies with scant attention from composition scholars focused on L1 issues yet still confronted in their

classrooms with the written accents of once ESL student. The evolution of the field from L2 studies quarters featured: an unjustified product/process dichotomy probably due to an exclusive focus on pedagogy; concern for the incidence of specific social contexts and purposes in the development of L2 literacy; and need-based research insights which are slowly reconnecting L2 writing studies to related disciplines. Polio, C. (2003). Research on second language writing: An overview of what we investigate and how. In B. Kroll (ed.), Exploring the Dynamics of Second Language Writing (pp. 35-69). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. L2 writing research has focused on writers texts, composing process, the participants of the learning/teaching process, and the social contexts of writing. This article reviews such research in an attempt to make writing instructors aware of the complexities of the field and critical of the findings as well as of their own classroom practices. It therefore focuses on the research foci, questions, and the methodologies to answer them, rather than on findings. The focus on texts has usually been concerned with text quality or its development over time; it has mainly been of an experimental nature and has struggled with the reliability of quality measuring criteria. Concern with process has been more descriptive than evaluative and mostly taken a qualitative approach. Given the difficult access to the processors black box, main challenges have been ensuring naturalistic environments, time consuming data gathering, and data interpretation. Participants and social context have also mainly been addressed through a diverse range of qualitative methods, including ethnographies and discourse analysis. A gap in accounts of FL (vs.L2) learning and classroom dynamics has become apparent in the study of social contexts. Methodologically, there is an overall need for more comprehensive and detailed reports on methodology (particularly, measure validity and reliability) and a more careful interpretation of results. Casanave, C. (2004). Paths to improvement (Chapt. 3, pp. 63-111). In Casanave, C. Controversies in second language writing: dilemmas and decisions in research and instruction, University of Michigan Press. A long-time pedagogical concern, improvement in L2 writing instruction is at the crossroad of theoretical debates perceived as crucial in the field: fluency/accuracy, product/process, and the role of feedback. The first dichotomy is more a dilemma than a debate, resulting from the time and resource restrictions of current pedagogies to equally attend to both. Process advocates rose against controlled-writing strategies safeguarding linguistic proficiency. They stressed the need to develop expressivity, fluency (including confidence), and invention. However, since composing is text and language-based, the simplistic representations of this debate have neglected the multiple purposes and audiences of writing as well as the diverse ways in which it is realized and taught. The socially situated perspective of genre-based pedagogies allows for (process-oriented) exploration of text/forms and functions rather than a mere use of these as templates. An ideological (beyond merely social) view of the power of contexts is advocated to promote improvement raising awareness of writers position in such contexts and their influence both on how they write and their end products. Improvement seems to happen with regular practice overtime regardless of feedback type; brief comments on content help maintaining a positive attitude about such lengthy and often messy task.

Johns, A. (2003). Genre and ESL/EFL composition instruction. In B. Kroll (ed.), Exploring the Dynamics of Second Language Writing (pp. 195-217). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. In composition studies genre designates a distinctive category of any kind of text or discourse, which originates in the shared socio-communicative practices and norms of an occupational community and is reflected in the purpose of the text, its content, use and formal organizational and linguistic features. The study of genres has been approached on three distinct bases: as texts, as process and as social practice. Following these emphases, three genre schools developed in the English speaking world: The Sydney School, based on Systemic Functional Linguistics, locates the conventions reflecting the community ownership of a genre in the text, whose organization and language are a function of the features of the social contexts where it originates. The English for Special Purpose (ESP) School locates text conventions with the disciplinary or professional discursive community which uses a text and therefore stresses issues of writers occupational needs, situational and discourse analysis and explicit instruction on genre exemplars. Such focus has been objected by the New Rhetoric School as assimilative and unaware of the ideological and hegemonic nature of text production. New Rhetoricians view genres as negotiated dynamic rhetorical structures and genre knowledge as tacitly acquired (and contested) through direct participation in the discourse community. Hyland, K. (2007). Genre pedagogy: Language, literacy and L2 writing instruction, Journal of Second Language Writing 16 (148-164) Writing is a social activity involving creativity within established patterns of behavior which we know from acquisition of discursive schema through exposure. Genre pedagogy responds to process-oriented writing instruction focused on the development of composing strategies instead of on language resources to achieve specific communicative purposes and valid membership in discourse communities, direct statement of the skills and knowledge to be learnt, and the undeniable social authority of text forms. Only through awareness of how (sentence and text) grammar constrains the construction of meaning in public contexts will L2 writing learners be endowed to negotiate or contest a societys discourse structures. Classroom recipe approach to the use of genre theory is criticized and not seen as a necessary corollary of the theory itself since description of discourse is in essence not anymore prescriptive than description of grammar. Instructors key tasks with students are identifying their future discursive needs, exploring the social communities where such needs will be satisfied, and ensuring the learning of these communities use of language in grammatically patterned texts. Implementing genre pedagogy thus involves planning around need-based themes and genres; sequencing tasks around constellations of genre; scaffolding learning through a diverse selection of social contexts (and genres) and joint manipulation of representative samples. Cheng, A. (2006), Understanding learners and learning in ESP genre-based writing instruction, English for Specific Purposes 25 (76-89) ESPs key influence in L2 writing pedagogy due to its focus on students needs (and detailed description of the texts involved by such needs) is not paralleled by the attention its researchers

have devoted to the importance of ESP learners themselves and ESP classroom settings. A call is thus made for a learner-focused and context-sensitive kind of research to counterbalance ESPs target genre focused analysis. Two conceptual problems might be responsible for this limited attention to learners and their learning context: the homogeneous construction of advanced, non-native and international ESP students as generic learners; and the lack of a clear theory of learning by ESP genre scholars that backs their distinctive understanding of genre as discipline-specific, learned through a guided immersion highlighting attention to form along with discovery. Research questions and designs which help re(de)fine students profile in terms of their text products, instruction itself and theories of learning are needed. Borrowing insights from constructivists approaches to learning like Language Awareness might inform ESP researchers questions on how the focus on genre exemplars translates into genre knowledge. Tardy, C. (2006), Researching first and second language genre learning: A comparative review and a look ahead. Journal of Second Language Writing 15 (79-101)
This paper reviews the findings of 60 empirical studies on the development of genre knowledge among L1 and L2 writers in practice-based or instructional settings. Only one study looks at the same learners passing from one setting to the other and no study compares L1 and L2 writers. Comparisons of findings are thus tentative and reviewed here along 7 variables. Prior exposure to genres and interaction with texts, are in fact used and influential in L1 and L2 writers as well as across settings, even though prior exposure can have both, positive and negative effects. All students use models productively and there is no evidence for constraining effects of text templates. The ability to transfer knowledge across disciplinary domains appears difficult for all groups and settings and needs more research. L1 writers and those in practice-based settings tend to focus on the socio-rhetorical dimension of genre knowledge reflecting disciplinary thinking and L2 writers and those in instructional settings focus more on formal knowledge reflecting specific use of language and text organization. L2 writers, however, are also significantly restricted in their genre appropriation by less access to L2 oral interaction and culturally-sensitive mentoring, both important inputs for the development of generic skills. In general, this survey identifies a need for further evidence of the influence of explicit instruction on genre conventions across different groups of writers and, most importantly, on subsequent generic practice in the workplace.

Second Language Writing: Heritage Language Students in the US Valds, G. (2006/1992) Bilingual Minorities and Language Issues in Writing: Toward Profession wide Responses to a New Challenge (pp.31-70). In Matsuda, P. K. et al., (eds.) SecondLanguage Writing in the Composition Classroom. A Critical Sourcebook, New York: Bedford/St Martins. Bilingual minorities in US English writing classrooms are changing the entire student population and they are here to stay; their linguistic identity is not as short-termed as assumed. Even though their needs are specific, they ought to be seen, studied and taught as part of the nations changing and diverse student population, an endeavor which requires the attention of all of the English teaching profession, beyond ESL specialists. All English teacher need to understand the peculiar societal (vs. individual) circumstantial (vs. elective) and functional (vs. incipient) nature of US minority bilingualism as well as its consequences for the development of English writing skills. The degree to which minority bilinguals are functional in the L2 can be diverse as is development across communicative competence. Additionally they are subject to fossilization,

the use of contact varieties, and, despite possible near-native proficiency, they often will present a written accent in the selection and use of conventionalized language persists. With such specific kind of L2 learners in mind, L2 writing scholarship needs to review the kind of written instruction they are offered, their treatment as a problem, the impact of their complex linguistic competence on writing, and the influence of their background factors on skill development, compared to mainstream students. Valds, G. and Anloff, P. (1999) Latino ESL students and the development of writing abilities In Cooper, C. and Odell, L. (eds.) Evaluating Writing. The Role of Teachers Knowledge about Text, Learning, and Culture, Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English. This 2 years longitudinal study of 8 newly arrived middle school Latino ESL students development of English writing skills attempts to fill a gap in the research on the writing of nonEnglish-background students by accounting for the levels of proficiency that can be attained after two years of arrival, the competencies and motivations the children bring with them, their needs, and the practices which make most sense. The childrens writing ability development is charted on a 7 level achievement matrix including the areas of communication, organization, and mechanics. Two very different focal children who start at level 1 and over 2 years achieve level 3 and 7 are selected for report. While classroom observation records that a grammar-oriented syllabus gives little opportunity for developing writing and exploring students own voices, results on the development of writing abilities indicate that progress is slow and happens in small steps; writing ability depends on the development of oral ability; communication happens regardless of organization and mechanics, and the latter work themselves out overtime without direct instruction. Ensuring awareness of basic English patterns of text organization is crucial as well as valuing the very fact of trying to communicate in writing and seeing students voices beyond the surface imperfections of their texts. Colombi, M.C. (2002) Academic language development in Latino students writing in Spanish. In Schleppegrell, M. and Colombi M. C. (eds.), Developing Advanced Literacy in First and Second Languages. Meaning with Power, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates The concern about how Spanish as Heritage Language (SHL) users develop control of written academic language in their L1, restricted before college enrollment to use in the home and other affective contexts, and how this can be measured is addressed from a systemic functional linguistic framework of language use and literacy development. The expository and argumentative texts produced by 2 second generation immigrants enrolled in an undergraduate Spanish course for Native Speakers at UC, Davis are studied over a period of 9 months, attending to the incidence of a high lexical density and low grammatical intricacy (fewer and informationally richer clauses per sentence) achieved through nominalization and grammatical metaphor) as lexico-grammatical features of a more formal written registers. Results indicate that there is progress toward a more literate written language and that strategies of clause condensation and nominalization are in fact a means of charting and understanding such development. Grammatical choices do produce certain text types and further research on how this happens can expand our knowledge on how to include grammar into writing instruction. Pedagogically, the findings seem to indicate that an explicit language focus would be beneficial

for speakers who were unschooled in their heritage language and mostly exclusively exposed to informal varieties of it. Colombi, M.C. (2009) A systemic functional approach to teaching Spanish for heritage speakers in the United States, Linguistics and Education 20 (39-49) In spite of the recent major increase in the share of Latino population in the US, Spanish is still often considered a minority language of lesser status caught between contradictory attitudes of language pride and language panic. This has resulted in the virtual absence of bilingual education opportunities for the bilingual children of immigrants until they reach higher education. Less diverse in their linguistic profile than general Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) users, college level SHL students, use a colloquial variety of Spanish, are functionally fluent orally yet have very basic written skills. Their academic skills in English are good and their motivation for language learning is to perfect their Spanish for future professional use. A pedagogical model, for the development of advanced literacy skills in Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) learners is proposed, based on Systemic Functional Linguistics genre-based literacy approach. On the assumption of a fundamental interconnectedness between language use, context, function and meaning, the model attempts to satisfy SHL learners need to expand their registerial and generic repertoires beyond their own often stigmatized language varieties and use through an awareness of form/function-meaning relationships by means of explicit instruction and joint and individual explorations of text reception, analysis and production. Valds, G., Haro, P., and Echevarriarza, M.P. (1992) The Development of Writing Abilities in a Foreign Language: Contributions toward a General Theory of L2 Writing, The Modern Language Journal, 76(3), (333-352). The findings of an examination of writing samples of 3 different level (1st, 2nd year, and advanced composition class) Spanish as a foreign language (SFL) students of an elite university with English L1 question the implicit assumptions by the FL profession (as in ACTFL Proficiency guidelines) on the development of FL writing skills. Findings show that different level SFL students--assumed to be competent L1 writers--show increasingly sophisticated products. Most importantly, they do not follow the developmental sequence assumed in ACTFL guidelines which links FL literacy skills (i.e. discourse organization and control of style) to language proficiency and thereby ignores the positive L1 transfer of concepts of text organization, cohesion and unity of topic. In the case of a well developed standard variety of L1 and an L2 studied in an academic context, L2 proficiency thus interacts with L1 writing allowing for a capitalization on L1 knowledge of writing conventions, particularly if both languages follow generally similar discourse conventions. Further research is necessary to determine when transfer plays a minor role: what happens with more specific genres or low literacy skills in the L1? and How do L1 strategies restructure when prompted by a particular writing task?

Conclusion: The points of convergence between textual and extra-linguistic sub-competences of the macrotranslation competence and genre knowledge are intuitively evident as is the latters potential contribution to the enhancement of translation skills. However, empirical studies have yet to observe how explicit genre instruction is implemented in the translation classroom, how it is processed by different learners and measure its impact. Prose translation has been identified as a strand of translation practice and pedagogy which could particularly benefit from a genre-based approach and insights from genre-based L2 writing teaching. Does this mean that translation exercises would best be combined with original (non-L1 prompted) L2 writing? To what extend and with what benefits? Would parameters of success come from a product-oriented perspective and focus on text production or maybe also consider a process-perspective and pay attention to, and even maybe value, translation trainees self-perception as eventually successful L2 writers? In fact, L2 writing studies seem to be looking beyond the product-process dichotomy to first and foremost assert the tantamount importance of sheer practice for L2 writing improvement. There also seem to be enough evidence gathered in favor of the importance of process or fluency based approaches for the building of own voices and mainly, self-confidence and perception of self as an actual L2 writer. Finally explicit exposure to the genre examplars to be produced by learners along with immersion into their social context and user community have also been posited as important triggers of improvement. Particular attention is given to perceptive and productive exploration of the L2 examplars formal and organizational features and constructivist approaches to the promotion of genre knowledge development. Questions remain open as to the specific impact of explicit classroom genre instruction on specific types of learners (with differentiated levels of L1 literacy skills, for example) and how genre knowledge gained from such instruction transfers outside the classroom. Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) learners are a distinct population in US FL writing classes increasingly investigated from the L2 writing field. They are very diverse in their bilingualism and particularly distinct from foreign language learners in their language needs and often also in their L1 literacy skills. At the college level they are often functionally fluent in their HL but have basic writing skill in it. Their main need is to expand their HL registerial and generic repertoires (or to learn a second (standard) dialect rather than an L2 ) beyond their colloquial (and often stigmatized) variety of Spanish (HL). They are believed to benefit from explicit instruction on the form/function relationships of L2 texts, their purposes and contexts of use. Another focus of instruction which is believed to operate in their benefit is the scoffolded joint and individual exploration of text reception, analysis and production. Pedagogical models have been constructed and implemented in HL college programs, but observation and measurement of their impact are still tasks to be carried out. Having taught prose translation of standardized (medical and legal) texts to mixed classes of Spanish as a FL and HL students, what I would like to test is the potentially different impacts of two different approaches to explicit genre-based translation teaching (one restricted to contrastive analysis of genre examplars in the source and target languages vs. another complementing such analysis with original writing exercises and feedback in the L2) on FL vs. HL learners ability 1) to produce discursively more appropriate translations in the genre studied; and 2) to produce functionally more appropriate L2 original writings within such genre.

Research proposal o What is tested: 1. The potentially differentiated value of explicit contrastive genre analysis for: a. the development of prose translation competence of FL vs. HL translator trainees in that specific genre, and b. the improvement of FL and HL translator trainees ability to produce original (not prompted by an L1 text) L2 writings in that same specific genre. 2. The potentially added value of complementing explicit contrastive genre analysis with L2 writing exercises and feedback for improvement of the two groups translation and original L2 writing competences. o Participants and tasks 6 undergraduate students of advanced Spanish as a FL and another 6 undergraduate with Spanish as a HL enrolled in a US introductory translation class with no explicit genre instruction. The students will have different prior educational background and level of discursive competence in English (their L1), selected on the basis of a general social and educational background survey and a brief diagnostic composition. 2 students of each language category (FL and HL) will be subject to only one kind of genre-based instruction (explicit contrastive genre analysis without original L2 writing exercises Group A--, and contrastive genre analysis plus writing assignments with feedback Group B) and a control group (C) will be subject to none. Pre-test: o of the discursive and functional acceptability of a translation from English into Spanish of a business letter (genre: commercial correspondence). o Original writing in Spanish of a formal letter to a retailer requesting information about a consumer item. Intervention: o 2 1.5 hour sessions of common explicit contrastive analysis of business correspondence features in Spanish and English for Groups A and B. o 2 1.5 hour sessions of genre-specific writing workshops on commercial correspondence in Spanish with instructors feedback for Group B o Separate Focus group interviews of Group A and B about the students perception of the contribution of the intervention to the post test tasks. Post-test: o A prose translation of a different text within the same genre o An original writing in L2 English on a slightly different sub-genre within the business letter generic category.