Investigating impoliteness in workplace emails by Chinese users of English

Lan Li


This paper presents a number of findings concerning impoliteness within the workplace email of Chinese users of English.  Particular interest was given to the exploration of the relationship between specific speech acts and the occurrence of impoliteness and non-politeness; what impolite devices were used in frontline business communication; what are the circumstances, patterns and functions of impoliteness in workplace email?  Findings illustrate that message enforcers were the most common impoliteness device used,  generally being utilized to make a demand, emphasize a position and place blame.  In terms of giving rise to potential impoliteness the assertive speech act was the most hazardous.  In order to maintain authenticity the examples used are reproduced exactly as they occurred in the data set, in places substantial deviations from the conventions of English grammar and spelling are to be found. Pedagogical implications are discussed in the conclusion.


workplace email, email acts, impoliteness devices, non-politeness, face

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ISSN: 2246-8838
ISBN: 978-87-7112-247-3