Politeness in Institutional Discourse
Face-Threatening Acts in Native and Nonnative English Business Letters
University of Oldenburg
This volume reports on a large-scale quantitative investigation into a variety of face-threatening acts in authentic institutional discourse. The contrastive analysis is based on a substantial corpus of 600 native English, interlanguage (Dutch-English) and native Dutch business letters. In all, over 2,000 tokens of face-threatening acts are analyzed, covering a wide range of face threats (such as requesting, promising, offering, inviting, warning, apologizing, wishing, thanking, and confirming).
The analysis, which employs Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness model, focuses on a number of distinct but related research questions, such as:
-Pragmatic Variation: How are face-threatening acts realized in written business discourse? In particular, to what extent do writers use lexical, syntactic and textual resources to mark (im)politeness?
-Interlanguage Variation: To what extent do native and interlanguage English realizations differ? Can such differences, partly or completely, be attributed to pragmatic transfer from the interlanguage users’ L1 (in this case Dutch)?
-Cross-Cultural Variation: To what extent do English and Dutch realizations differ, and what repercussions does this have in terms of politeness?
The book attempts to bridge the gap between three fields: politeness research, institutional discourse studies, and cross-cultural pragmatics (see also the Geluykens & Kraft 2008 volume in this series). It should thus be of interest not just to researchers working in the field of linguistic (im)politeness, but also to all those interested in institutional discourse in general, and business writing in particular, and last but not least to practitioners in cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics.
ISBN 9783862880478. LINCOM Studies in Pragmatics 20. 288pp. 2011.