Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia DIPARTIMENTO DI STUDI LINGUISTICI E CULTURALI
C ORSO DI L AUREA M AGISTRALE IN
L ANGUAGES FOR C OMMUNICATION IN I NTERNATIONAL ENTERPRISES AND ORGANIZATIONS
Business email correspondence: claim strategies among BELF users
Corrispondenza aziendale via email: strategie di reclami prodotti in inglese
Prova finale di:
Martina Montecchi Relatore:
Prof.ssa Giuliana Diani
Prof.ssa Silvia Cacchiani
Anno Accademico 2018/2019
Emails are one of the most common forms of business correspondence used by companies for both external and internal communication. Companies’ internationalization process, originated from globalization, is the reason why the English language has become the preferred medium for international business transactions among people who do not share the same first language. This use of English is known as Business English as a Lingua Franca (BELF).
Business email communication has developed enormously over the years and has attracted considerable interest.
The purpose of the present thesis is to analyse emails of claim sent by customers to two Italian enterprises: a tile manufacturing company and a company that produces components for industrial machinery. Claims distinguish themselves from other email exchanges as they are more difficult to manage and particularly threatening, especially to the recipient’s face. As a matter of fact, in these particular situations, companies pursue divergent goals more than ever.
This study attempts to identify the most widespread strategies in claims produced by BELF users. Furthermore, it is assumed that English could be influenced by writers’ first language.
In order to carry out the study, a corpus of 60 emails was collected and examined adopting a pragmatic and corpus methodology. In particular, pragmatics focuses mainly on speech act theory: more specifically, three speech acts contained in emails of claim were examined: complaints, requests and apologies.
Although this is a limited study, the overall results indicate that writers value clarity, directness and conciseness. In fact, the dataset revealed that abbreviations, direct strategies and explicit statements were extremely used. In addition to this, emails tend to favour informality and might contain mistakes, which nevertheless do not hinder communication.
At the same time findings also show that companies are interested in maintaining business relationships. However, a more detailed examination revealed that personal pronouns are always used to express a personal perspective, either the company’s or the customers’ one.
On a final note, the linguistic influence hypothesis could not be validated by the current research.
Le email rappresentano una delle forme di corrispondenza aziendale più utilizzate dalle imprese sia per la comunicazione interna che per quella esterna. Il processo di internazionalizzazione delle aziende, scaturito a seguito della globalizzazione, è il motivo per cui la lingua inglese è diventata il mezzo di comunicazione per gli scambi d’affari internazionali tra persone che non condividono la stessa lingua madre. L’utilizzo della lingua inglese in contesti aziendali viene definito Business English as a Lingua Franca (BELF). Negli anni la comunicazione aziendale via email si è sviluppata enormemente e ha suscitato particolare interesse.
Il presente lavoro di tesi ha come obiettivo quello di analizzare email di reclamo prodotte da clienti di due imprese italiane: un’azienda del settore ceramico e un’azienda che produce componenti di macchine industriali. I reclami si distinguono dal resto della comunicazione via email in quanto sono più difficili da gestire e sono particolarmente minacciosi per i destinatari.
Infatti, in queste situazioni le aziende coinvolte hanno obiettivi più che mai contrastanti.
Questo studio è il frutto del tentativo di identificare le strategie più comuni che vengono utilizzate nei reclami scritti in inglese. Inoltre, si è ipotizzato che l’inglese possa essere condizionato dalla madrelingua degli autori.
A tale scopo sono state raccolte 60 email, che sono state successivamente esaminate applicando una metodologia basata sulla pragmatica e la linguistica dei corpora. In particolare, la pragmatica si è incentrata principalmente sulla teoria degli atti linguistici e, nello specifico, sono stati presi in considerazione i tre contenuti nelle email di reclamo: lamentele, richieste e scuse.
Sebbene questo elaborato rappresenti uno studio limitato, nel complesso i risultati indicano una preferenza per la chiarezza, schiettezza e la sinteticità dei messaggi. Di fatto i dati rivelano un forte uso di abbreviazioni, strategie dirette e affermazioni esplicite. In aggiunta, le email non sono particolarmente formali e possono contenere errori, i quali tuttavia non impediscono la comunicazione.
Un altro principale obiettivo delle aziende, riscontrato nei risultati, è quello di tutelare i rapporti d’affari con i propri clienti. Nonostante ciò, un’attenta analisi ha rivelato che i
pronomi personali nelle email vengono sempre usati per esprimere una prospettiva personale, sia essa quella dell’azienda o dei suoi clienti.
Infine, lo studio non è stato in grado di confermare il condizionamento dell’inglese da parte della lingua natia degli scrittori.
E-Mails sind eine der wichtigsten Formen der Geschäftskorrespondenz, die Unternehmen verwenden sowohl für externe als auch für interne Kommunikation. Die englische Sprache wurde das Kommunikationsmittel für den internationalen Geschäftsverkehr zwischen verschiedensprachigen Menschen wegen des Internationalisierungsprozess des Unternehmens, die aus Globalisierung stammt. Unter dem Begriff Business English as a Lingua Franca (BELF) versteht man English benutzt in Unternehmenskontexte. Im Lauf der Jahre hat sich Unternehmenskommunikation nicht nur erheblich weiterentwickelt, sondern auch großes Interesse gefunden.
Diese Arbeit beschäftigt sich mit der Analyse von Beschwerdemails, die von Kunden an zwei italienischen Unternehmen geschrieben wurden. Die Firmen sind ein Keramikhersteller und ein Hersteller von Maschinenbauteilen.
Reklamationen unterscheiden sich von anderen E-Mail-Austauschen, denn sie sind sehr schwer zu bewältigen und besonders bedrohlich für Empfänger. In diesen besonderen Situationen verfolgen Unternehmen abweichende Ziele.
Der Versuch dieser Untersuchung ist es, die verbreitetste Strategien, die in englischen Reklamationen benutzt werden, zu identifizieren. Außerdem ist es davon auszugehen, dass die Muttersprache der Schreiber E-Mails auf Englisch beeinflussen könnte.
Zu diesem Zweck wurden 60 E-Mails gesammelt. Die Nachrichten wurden mithilfe der Pragmatik und Korpusanalyse untersucht. Der Schwerpunkt der Pragmatik legt im Besonderen auf die Sprechakttheorie und wertete drei Sprechakten, die in Beschwerdemails enthalten sind, aus: Klagen, Anfragen und Entschuldigungen.
Obwohl diese Arbeit nur wenige Daten umfasst, die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass Klarheit, Direktheit und Prägnanz bewertet sind. Abkürzungen, direkte Strategien und explizite Aussagen sind zwar sehr üblich. Man soll auch bemerken, dass E-Mails meistens informell sind.
Außerdem sind Fehler möglich, aber sie behindern Kommunikation nicht.
Als weiter Ergebnis für diese Arbeit wird festgehalten, dass Unternehmen sich um Geschäftsbeziehungen bemühen. Eine Detailanalyse des Gebrauchs von Personalpronomen deutet jedoch auf eine persönliche Perspektive, die entweder eine Unternehmens- oder
Kundenperspektive sein kann.
Schließlich war es unmöglich, die Hypothese des sprachlichen Einflusses zu bestätigen.
T ABLE OF CONTENTS
1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 PART ONE: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 3
2.1 BUSINESS DISCOURSE 3
2.2 THE STATUS OF ENGLISH IN INTERNATIONAL AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION 4
2.2.1 ENGLISH AS A LINGUA FRANCA 5
2.2.2 BUSINESS ENGLISH AS A LINGUA FRANCA 7
2.3 EMAILS: A WRITTEN COMMUNICATION INSTRUMENT 11
2.3.1 THE HISTORY OF EMAILS 12
2.3.2 EMAIL: WRITTEN OR ORAL COMMUNICATION? 12
2.3.3 CATEGORIZATION OF EMAILS AND THEIR PURPOSES 15
2.3.4 GENERAL FEATURES OF EMAILS 16
2.3.5 STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS 18
220.127.116.11 HEADER 18
18.104.22.168 BODY OF THE MESSAGE 20
2.3.6 BUSINESS EMAILS VS BUSINESS LETTERS 21
3 PART TWO: SPEECH ACT THEORY AND POLITENESS 22
3.1 POLITENESS THEORY 22
3.2 SPEECH ACT OVERVIEW 25
3.2.1 THE SPEECH ACT SET OF COMPLAINING 27
22.214.171.124 COMPLAINT STRATEGIES 29
126.96.36.199 PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON COMPLAINTS 31
188.8.131.52 BUSINESS CUSTOMERS AND COMPLAINT MANAGEMENT 33
3.2.2 THE SPEECH ACT OF REQUESTS 34
184.108.40.206 REQUEST STRATEGIES 35
220.127.116.11 INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL MODIFICATIONS 36
18.104.22.168 PERSPECTIVES IN REQUEST SPEECH ACTS 38
22.214.171.124 PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON REQUESTS 38
3.2.3 THE SPEECH ACT OF APOLOGY 39
126.96.36.199 APOLOGY STRATEGIES 41
188.8.131.52 PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON APOLOGIES 44
4 PART THREE: METHODOLOGY 45
4.1 DATA COLLECTION AND REQUIREMENTS 45
4.2 CHALLENGES 46
4.3 METHODS FOR DATA ANALYSIS AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS 46
5 PART FOUR: ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS 49
5.1 GENERAL REMARKS 49
5.2 OPENINGS 54
5.3 CLOSINGS 57
5.4 BODY OF THE MESSAGE 60
5.4.1 COMPLAINTS 60
184.108.40.206 DEGREE OF SEVERITY 61
220.127.116.11 BASIC COMPONENTS 70
18.104.22.168 ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION OF COMPLAINTS 72
5.4.2 REQUESTS 81
22.214.171.124 REQUEST STRATEGIES 81
126.96.36.199 REMEDIES 87
5.4.3 APOLOGIES 90
188.8.131.52 APOLOGY STRATEGIES 90
5.4.4 OTHER OBSERVATIONS 95
6 CONCLUSION, LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH 100
7 REFERENCES 104
1 I NTRODUCTION
Research on communication, in particular communication through the Internet medium, has attracted considerable interest over the years due to its daily and widespread employment. Furthermore, communication within the workplace has been investigated thoroughly in the last decade as a consequence of globalization and internationalization of enterprises.
The aim of the present study is to analyse emails of claim in the business sector. The language I focused on was English given that nowadays it is employed in almost every workplace setting, whatever the country we take into consideration. This language has become so universal that is considered to be the foundation of the majority of international and intercultural interactions, especially in business, as validated by Ersilia Incelli (2007), who argues that:
As English is by now well-established as the lingua franca of business and intercultural communication and a large portion of employees’ daily communicative tasks are carried out at various levels in non-native English, effective communicative competence in English has become essential for businesses (Incelli 2007: 90).
In my opinion, an analysis of the language used in messages of claim is of particular interest since they contain highly sensitive matters, and the interactants adopt in their writings a problem-solving approach. Moreover, in these particular messages the different parties have complementary and divergent goals they want to achieve but, at the same time, one fundamental and mutual goal is also to maintain the business relationship. For this reason, emails must display cooperation as well as find compromises and adopt an appropriate language.
This thisis is divided into four main parts. The first section begins by giving a general overview on workplace discourse and the origins of the email communication channel, describing some of its main features. In addition to that, some concepts concerning the English as business language will also be tackled.
The second part deals with politeness strategies and previous research on speech acts.
In particular, the focus will be on speech acts of complaint, request and apology. These models and classifications will be useful for analysing the claims collected.
Afterwards, the methodology employed will be described. This section will not only concentrate on the procedure used in collecting the data but also on the challenges faced as well as the methods that will be applied in the analysis. Furthermore, two research questions will be identified.
The proper analysis will occur in part four, where email exchanges between two Italian companies and their customers will be investigated. Previously analysed research will be applied in order to examine general remarks, openings and closings and the main text of claims, which will be divided in the already discussed speech acts. Other observations in the body of the message will also be noted.
Finally, results will be highlighted, and conclusions will be drawn, together with limitations of the study and suggestions for possible future research.
2 P ART ONE : THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
2.1 B USINESS D ISCOURSE
Communication at work comprises a wide range of genres, but we can say that the email analysis carried out in this thesis is an examination of a broader genre commonly known as institutional talk, which investigates language used in professional and workplace settings.
According to Koester (2004: 2), referring to Drew and Heritage’s (1992) work, who first used the term “institutional talk”, many characteristics can be observed that distinguish ordinary conversation from institutional talk:
❖ GOAL ORIENTATION:professionals have a specific goal that they want to achieve.
❖ TURN-TAKING RULES OR RESTRICTIONS:this feature indicateS limitations on who speaks when.
❖ ALLOWABLE CONTRIBUTIONS:in workplace conversations and business contexts there arerestrictions on what parties can say.
❖ PROFESSIONAL LEXIS: interactants use a business-specific vocabulary.
❖ STRUCTURE: business interactions may have a specific structure that must be followed.
❖ ASYMMETRY: this refers to asymmetry of power within business interactions.
Parties have different statuses and/or knowledge.
Obviously, as noted by Koester (2004), one of these features can only be applied to the spoken discourse, namely the turn-taking and restrictions one. In fact, in the written language there is no overlapping or interrupting each other’s sentences as it might happen in spoken conversations. All of the other features are relevant to the written language as well.
Professional genres are many and varied but they can be roughly differentiated between internal or external communication and written or spoken genres. On the one hand, it is quite obvious the distinction between written and spoken communication: the former involves writing whereas the latter involves speakers.
On the other hand, the dichotomy internal/external communication deserves more
attention, because its meaning is less straightforward and deductible. In his paper, Kumbhar (2013) defines internal communication as the sum of all communication that takes place within a specific organization. On the contrary, external communication refers to communication between the organization and parties that are outside of it.
Before analysing our data, we should take a moment to answer the following crucial questions:
▪ WHAT KIND OF LANGUAGE IS USED IN BUSINESS DISCOURSE?
▪ WHAT ARE EMAILS?
2.2 T HE STATUS OF E NGLISH IN INTERNATIONAL AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2009), the term globalization refers to:
The process of making something such as a business operate in a lot of different countries all around the world […] (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2009: 743).
Or, as mentioned by Poppi (2012):
The result of the convergence of the ten flatteners1, which took place around the year 2000, was the creation of a global, flatted playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration, in real time, regardless of geography, distance or language (Poppi 2012: 19).
The dissolution of barriers, the consequent homogenization of culture in terms of global consumption and the advent of the Internet, which facilitated instantaneous communication and exchange of information at a global level, called for a way of communicating easily and efficiently among each other (Poppi 2012). The answer to this need was English.
1 With the term ten flatteners Franca Poppi is referring to ten events mentioned by Friedman (2005), which resulted in a flattening of the world. For more information see Poppi (2012: 17-19).
Several experts have investigated the role of English at various levels and many distinctions have been highlighted. Nevertheless, it is not the aim of this study to discern why English, among all languages, have prevailed as the means for international communication (see Poppi 2012), nor to distinguish among the various Englishes (see Martins 2017; Poppi 2012; Seidlhoefer 2011). For this reason, the following paragraphs will consider only the English language used in international encounters.
Instead of focusing on native speakers (NSs) and non-native speakers (NNSs), we would like to explore the difference between English as an International Language (EIL), English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and lastly Business English as a Lingua Franca (BELF).
2.2.1 E NGLISH AS A LINGUA FRANCA
It was Modiano the first researcher who rejected the idea of English as a language owned by some speakers and introduced, as an alternative, the concept of EIL, which was based on the ability to communicate effectively in English in international contexts (Poppi 2012). English as an International Language is often used interchangeably with English as a Lingua Franca, even though it is claimed that these two notions have slightly different meanings. Poppi (2012), in mentioning Seidlhoefer (2011), describes ELF as a globalized EIL.
Prior to the specification of the concept of ELF, it is worth considering what is a lingua franca in general.
The origins of the term lingua franca can be traced back to Old French where “franc”
stood for “free”, whereas “lingua” means “language”. The meaning is thus “free language”
(Seidlhoefer 2011). Lingua franca was used initially to refer to a trade language spoken in the South-Eastern coast of the Mediterranean between the 15th and 19th centuries and it included elements from many different languages (Seidlhoefer 2011; Poppi 2012). Other languages before English have been used as lingua francas, both artificial ones, e.g. Volapük and Esperanto (Gerritsen and Nickerson 2009), as well as fully developed ones, such as Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, but only the English language “for the first time in history […] has reached truly global dimensions, across continents, domains, and social strata […]” (Seidlhoefer 2011:
It should also be noted that the amount of NNSs that use English as a Lingua Franca greatly prevail over NSs of English. But, as argued above, ELF does not rely upon ownership of the language.
The definition of ELF, given by Seidlhoefer, highlights the fact that, even if a minority, speakers of the Inner and Outer Circles2 are also considered ELF speakers and should therefore be included in such definition (Seidlhoefer 2011). English as a Lingua Franca is, therefore:
[…] any use of English among speakers of different first languages for whom English is the communicative medium of choice, and often the only option (Seidlhoefer 2011: 7).
Since native speakers of English are also considered ELF speakers, nowadays it seems generally accepted that ELF should not be reckoned as English as a native language (ENL), but rather a completely different language, which might be taught to NSs as well, as pointed out in Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen (2013).
The distinctive features of ELF have been investigated by many scholars, but it is not the main objective of this work to investigate and give an account of all the possible peculiarities of this variety. A complete account of ELF pragmatic and lexico-grammatical features is available in Poppi (2012). To mention only few of them, and possibly the most typical ones (Martins 2017: 64):
▪ Omitting the use of definite and indefinite articles
▪ Dropping the third person singular present tense
▪ Plural of uncountable nouns
▪ Failing to use the correct relative pronoun (who/which)
▪ Extended use of semantically flexible verbs
▪ Wrong use of tag questions
These features seem to be also characteristics of BELF, which will be the subject of the next section.
2 Kachru’s classification of Englishes into a three-circle model is explained exhaustively in Poppi (2012: 28-29) as well as in Martins (2017: 61-62).
2.2.2 B USINESS E NGLISH AS A L INGUA F RANCA
Whenever an international business encounter takes place, with interlocutor 1 speaking language 1 and interlocutor 2 speaking language 2, the following communication options are available (Gerritsen and Nickerson 2009: 180):
A. Interlocutor 1 switches to interlocutor’s 2 mother tongue language.
B. Interlocutor 2 switches to interlocutor’s 1 mother tongue language.
C. Interlocutor 1 speaks his/her mother tongue language, while interlocutor 2 speaks his/her mother tongue language.
D. Both interlocutors adopt a third language, which is neither interlocutor’s first language, to communicate.
Option C. is usually the least common because it requires both speakers to understand and speak both languages. Situations A. and B. are quite typical and require only one person to know the other party’s first language. Presumably, in a business organization, is the employee the one who accommodates to the client’s mother tongue language. Support to this hypothesis was given by the current study as, when asking the tile manufacturing company for the emails of claim, it was noticed that, when the employees were able to speak and understand the language spoken by their customers, they tended to use that particular language. This could also be explained by the fact that the customers did not understand the employees’ first language, however, they did not opt for the lingua franca (option D.). As a consequence, all German, French and Spanish speaking countries conducted their businesses and exchanged information in, respectively, German, French and Spanish.
When English as a Lingua Franca is used in business contexts, we call it Business English as a Lingua Franca (BELF). Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen have now introduced the term English as a Business Lingua Franca (EBLF) to stress the domain of use rather than the English variety (Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013).
McKay (2002) reports that English is becoming more and more conventional in business, in fact it is employed as the official language of 85% of international organizations (Martins 2017).
To comprehend fully what BELF means, we refer to Gerritsen and Nickerson (2009: 181), who cited Kankaanranta’s work (2005):
BELF refers to English used as a ‘neutral’ and shared communication code. BELF is neutral in the sense that none of the speakers can claim it as her/his mother tongue; it is shared in the sense that it is used for conducting business within the global business discourse community, whose members are BELF users and communicators in their own right – not ‘non-native speakers’ or ‘learners’. (2005: 403-4).
Thus, the emphasis is not on emulation of a native-like language, but rather on the importance to use BELF to get the job done. In addition to this, we must bear in mind that BELF is highly context-specific and for this reason is a variety that is created in actual use (Kankaanranta 2008).
Charles (2009) points out that the main purpose of BELF is to facilitate and arrange an effective communication through the parties, who use BELF as a means to achieve corporate goals (Poppi 2012).
BELF speakers are part of a community in the sense that they share the context and culture of business and the fact that they all speak English and are able to apply its discourse practices, not to mention that they do not need to be experts in the English language to communicate efficiently (Kankaanranta 2008).
Despite the fact that BELF is considered to be a cultureless or culture-neutral lingua franca, language cannot be taken separately from one’s culture, as argued by Kankaanranta (2008). If, one the one hand, BELF users are joined by the fact that they all share a common business culture, on the other hand, they are influenced by their own cultural background in the way the speak and act. A perfect example of cultural impact is the study conducted by Kankaanranta on internal email communication where Finns turned out to be more direct and issue-oriented than Swedes, who were discussion-oriented and interpersonal, when writing in English, as a consequence of their linguistic and cultural backgrounds (Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013).
Turning now to the discursive characteristics of BELF, which are illustrated in Kankaanranta and Planken (2010), we should mention:
▪ A simplified English;
▪ Business-specific terminology as well as general business one;
▪ A hybrid form of discourse practices deriving from the interlocutors’ mother tongue practices.
As far as the first characteristic is concerned, evidences suggest that a simplified English is achievable through clarity and plain English rather than grammatical correctness. As a matter of fact, grammatical inaccuracies do not seem to interfere with the delivery of a message during BELF interactions.
Regarding the second characteristic, non-experts find it hard to understand business- related vocabulary, which is perceived to be decisive in successful communication, or at least, it is far more important that grammatical accuracy. This expertise not only entails understanding the proper choice of audience, media and timing, but also comprehending the core message and its style (Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013).
The last feature, i.e. hybrid discourse practices, refers to proportion of issue versus relational talk, directness versus indirectness and politeness-related phenomena (Kankaanranta and Planken 2010).
In terms of linguistic features, as mentioned in the previous chapter, BELF seems to display the same peculiarities as ELF. Nonetheless, BELF relies heavily on the context of use and does not focus on the proficiency of its users, but rather on the main objective, which is, as already pointed out, to get the work done (Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013). In fact, according to Kankaanranta and Planken (2010):
[…] BELF competence is sufficient if its users are able to do their work no matter how limited their English proficiency is (Kankaanranta and Planken 2010: 28).
In fact, BELF speakers reported that they handled communicative situations with NNSs better than those with NSs because the latter is perceived as unequal and asymmetrical due to the high proficiency power of native speakers (Kankaanranta and Planken 2010).
At this point an important question to clarify is: What can be considered an effective BELF communication? First of all, it should be mentioned the fundamental skill in BELF encounters that is central for a successful communication, which is Global Communicative Competence (GCC). The findings based on the knowhow project3 inspired Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen to expand their perspective into an investigation about the notion of
3 The knowhow project refers to a project with the title “Does Business Know How? The role of business and corporate communication in the business know-how of globalized and globalizing companies” which was part of a larger research program about business know-how that was funded by the Academy of Finland in 2006-2009 (Kankaanranta and Planken 2010).
competence (Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013). As illustrated in Figure 1, the model of GCC proposed by Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta (2011) is composed of three layers.
The first one, multicultural competence, describes the ability to manage communicative situations in multicultural environments, examples of this skill are listening and accommodation skills as well as being able to understand different accents and varieties of language (Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta 2011). The second refers to simultaneously managing the task required and forging relationships as well as preserving them. The last outermost layer is essential for GCC because it has an impact on all the other layers (Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013).
Figure 1: Model of Global Communicative Competence (Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta 2011:
In terms of actual discourse strategies that might be employed in order to achieve a successful business communication, we should mention four imperative factors: directness, clarity, politeness and the ability to support facts with explanations (Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta 2011). In particular, politeness was used to make the party feel good and
preserve business relationships when, for instance, making requests and delivering bad news.
Furthermore, accommodation and adaptation are key factors for a communicative success.
Evidences suggest that BELF speakers accommodate to their partner’s level of knowledge (Kankaanranta and Planken 2010). In other words, speakers must adopt flexibility as required by the particular situation, especially through the extensive use of paraphrasing, comprehension-checking strategies, asking/making clarifications and questions as well as repeating utterances and adopt multiple channels to reach a common understanding (Kankaanranta and Planken 2010; Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta 2011; Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen 2013).
All these competences and strategies are very important so as to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings in BELF situations. According to Gerritsen and Nickerson (2009: 182-184), there are three reasons that lead to a failed BELF communication and they are:
❖ LACK OF COMPREHENSIBILITY:the message sent is understood by the receiver in a different way from the sender’s original intentions.
❖ CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: interactants adopt their own mother tongue’s discourse practices and communication strategies which might differ.
❖ STEREOTYPED ASSOCIATIONS WITH A PARTICULAR ACCENT IN ENGLISH:speakers may have negative or positive associations with particular accents and, thus, have prejudice or stereotypes.
A high degree of BELF know-how is important as it helps users to avoid the aforementioned circumstances.
2.3 E MAILS : A WRITTEN COMMUNICATION INSTRUMENT
The significance and importance acquired by emails over the years is undeniable. As a matter of fact, email is a common communication tool used by almost every person of any age (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013). In particular, emails seem to be the most usual way of communicating in a written form in business settings (Darics and Koller 2018). Emails are
accounted as part of a more general field called electronically mediated communication (CMC) (Poppi 2012).
In the following chapters a brief summary of the origins of emails and a description of email as a genre will be given. Then, the focus will shift on the categorization of different types of emails and their distinctive features. Lastly, a comparison between business letters and emails will be drawn.
2.3.1 T HE HISTORY OF EMAILS
As Mulholland explains (1999: 59), emails have been developed as a facility of the Internet by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with the intent of creating a method of communication able to work on different computer software types. (Poppi 2012: 180).
It was not until the late 1980s that this useful instrument spread among computer users, who acknowledged the possibility to take advantage of emails as a means for sharing information in a quick and efficient way (Poppi 2012). Before then, emails were a prerogative of governmental, business and computer science circles (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013).
Nowadays emails are of everyday use in several contexts.
2.3.2 E MAIL : WRITTEN OR ORAL COMMUNICATION ?
Central to the composition of this chapter is the notion of genre. Genres are characterised by both the fact that they have predictable conventions and structures and they have a certain degree of variation and change, which allow them to be flexible as well as creative (Koester 2004). As reported by Darics and Koller (2018: 288):
Genre refers to language use in a conventionalised communicative setting in order to give expression to a specific set of communicative goals of a disciplinary or social institution, which give rise to stable structural forms by imposing constraints on the use of lexicon- grammatical as well as discoursal resources. (Bhatia, 2014, p. 27).
Emails belong to written workplace genres together with letters, memos, faxes and many others. They are considered a complex genre because they incorporate both spoken discourse and written discourse characteristics in them (Gimenez 2000). Furthermore, Gimenez (2000: 239) argues that “the fact that e-mails have to be written to be transmitted is a feature that reflects their mode of representation rather than their nature”. Nevertheless, emails are regarded as a written genre.
In addition to that, emails can also be described as a sort of hybrid genre in the sense that they comprise and evoke other genres. In this regard, Dürscheid and Frehner (2013) state that “it is doubtful whether one can consider email as something completely new, i.e., as a form of communication that is wholly different from any other communication form”
(Dürscheid and Frehner 2013: 42). In Gimenez’s work (2000), the author suggests that email communication seems to stem from telephone communication, as it displays more features typical of the spoken language. On the contrary, Baron (2002) believes that emails have much more in common with telegraphic language (Gimenez 2005). Moreover, as reported by Gimenez (2005: 13), Collot and Belmore (1996) claim that the language of emails is “closer to the spontaneous genres like speeches and interviews than it is to the informal genres such as official documents”. Even Crystal (2006) agrees on the idea that Netspeak, as he calls the features of the Internet language, emails included, shows characteristics of both oral and written discourse. As a matter of fact, he draws a comparison between memos, informal letters, telephone conversation and telegrams. But once again, what he found is that, despite all the similarities, emails are different from all the aforementioned genres.
To summarise what emails have in common with written and spoken discourse, I refer to table 2.3 and 2.4 in David Crystal’s book (2006). It was decided to create two new tables featuring only the spoken and written criteria of emails to reflect the focus of this study, rather than showing all Netspeak genres, as Crystal did in the original tables.
SPOKEN LANGUAGE CRITERIA EMAIL
1. time-bound yes, but in different ways 2. spontaneous variable
3. face-to-face no
4. loosely structured variable 5. socially interactive variable 6. immediately revisable no 7. prosodically rich no
Table 1: Spoken language criteria applied to emails (Crystal 2006: 45).
WRITTEN LANGUAGE CRITERIA EMAIL
1. space-bound yes, but routinely delated
2. contrived variable
3. visually decontextualized yes 4. elaborately structured variable 5. factually communicative yes 6. repeatedly revisable variable 7. graphically rich no
Table 2: Written language criteria applied to emails (Crystal 2006: 47).
What is important to highlight is the fact that, in contrast to face-to-face conversations, email communication does not allow for a simultaneous interaction, in the sense that messages can be read by receivers only once the author sends them (Crystal 2006). There is no interrupting or overlapping, in fact “according to Herring’s typology, email is an example of asynchronous communication with one-way message transmission: Neither must the communication parties be logged in simultaneously, nor can they see how the other person is typing the message” (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013: 38). For this reason, the rhythm of an email exchange can vary considerably (Crystal 2006) and this, as argued by Darics and Koller (2018:
294), might affect how recipients interpret the message.
2.3.3 C ATEGORIZATION OF EMAILS AND THEIR PURPOSES
Emails serve many and varied purposes. I would like to dedicate this short paragraph to a quick overview of the categorization of emails in email research. The following classification by Kankaanranta (2006) focuses on emails as a medium of communication. Emails can be divided into three types (Darics and Koller 2018: 290):
❖ NOTICEBOARD messages concentrate on delivering information about corporate issues, and their linguistic features resembles those of announcements.
❖ POSTMAN messages are used to dispatch documents and attachments for information and/or comments.
❖ DIALOGUE messages contain exchanges of information and can be compared to traditional letters.
Dialogue messages comprise different types of dialogue interactions that have been investigated by Goldstein and Sabin (2006) and can be classified as follows (Darics and Koller 2018: 290):
CATEGORY EXAMPLE SUGGESTED GENRES
Self Emails to self Reminders/notes
Non-personal Bulk emails Spam/advertising
Transmissives Forwarding documents Digital cover letter/memo to attachments Responses Provide info to question
Responses with forward function
Provide information to a question and ask questions
Information request Ask for information
Directive Ask someone to do something Email conversations Commitment Commit/offer to do something
Assertion Make a statement or state an opinion
16 Behabitive Express feelings
Verdictive Statement of accomplishments Official documents
Other Phatic communication Conversation
Table 3: Email categories and corresponding genres based on Goldstein and Sabin (2006) (Darics and Koller 2018: 290).
2.3.4 G ENERAL FEATURES OF EMAILS
Emails have many distinctive features, some of them relate to structural elements, whereas others have to do with the linguistic aspect of the language employed in emails. Many researchers have discussed some typical features of emails. In the following paragraphs a short review of past publications will be given.
Some preliminary work in this field was carried out by Petrie (1999), who coined the term emailism to denote all the stylistic features applied in email writing, which can either be graphostylistic features or dialogic ones (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013). The nine types of emailisms listed by Petrie (1999: 25), in order of frequency, are: trailing dots, capitalization, quoting back the previous email, excessive use of exclamation marks or question marks, email abbreviations, lack of conventional punctuation, non-standard spelling, use of non-alpha- numeric characters and use of “smilies4”/emoticons. In terms of style, Petrie noted that it varies from informal to formal, depending on the occasion.
In a similar way, Crystal (2006) came up with the term Netspeak, which, as explained beforehand in chapter 2.3.2, indicates all set of features used in the language of Internet genres. Some instances of Netspeak features in email communication are misspellings, a reduction in the use of capitalization, in both grammar and lexicon, the tendency to use rhetorical questions very frequently, acknowledgment to a previous message and an unusual employment of punctuation. In contrast to Petrie, Crystal finds the use of smileys not as typical and common. (Crystal 2006: 116-129). Crystal also argues that the length of paragraphs tends to be variable, which is explained by the fact that email can be used in many different contexts.
4 Petrie (1999) uses the spelling “smilies” to refer to what is commonly acknowledged as “smileys”.
For example, in institutionalized messages single-line paragraphs are less common than in personalized emails.
Other frequently used features, described in Dürscheid and Frehner (2013: 42), are lexical abbreviations. They can be achieved through the use of multiword sentences, e.g. CID which stands for “consider it done”, homophones, such as c rather than “see” or u instead of
“you”, and consonant spellings, e.g. wld as a substitute for “would”. Eliminating apostrophes seems to be another characteristic of emails. Furthermore, syntactic reduction is also largely used, such as subject omissions or verb deletions.
Gimenez (2000) distinguished between style and register of emails. As far as the style is concerned, email messages favour a more informal and personalised one. For instance, he noted that emails tend to be characterised by an extensive use of repetitions and colloquial expressions as well as personalized abbreviations. He also focused on the same features which have been illustrated above: punctuation, capitalization and spelling. With regard to register, he stated that simple and straightforward syntax, coordinate and short sentences, a preference for demonstrative modifiers and elliptical forms are representative features of emails.
A very unique property of emails is the concept of embeddedness, also referred to as thread or chain emails. Many experts have analysed this peculiar trait, such as Gimenez (2005;
2006) and Dürscheid and Frehner (2013), just to mention few of them. These terms indicate the characteristic of email messages to be textually connected (Gimenez 2006). Gimenez’s definition of embedded emails underlines the fact that messages “[…] are made up of an initial message which starts the communication event, a series of internal, subordinated messages which depend on the first message to make sense, and a final message which brings the communication event to an end (pp. 235-36)” (Gimenez 2005: 15). Furthermore, he focused his research on the length of these messages and observed that the chain initiator (the first message) and the chain terminator (the last message) are longer than the internal messages (Gimenez 2005), with the first message located at the bottom and the last one positioned at the beginning of the conversation (Gimenez 2006). As opposed to other scholars, Gimenez prefers the term embedded messages because he believes that this expression emphasizes the diverse role and importance of the different parts of a message, which together give meaning to the entire text. (Gimenez 2006).
Dürscheid and Frehner (2013) describe this technical feature of email as thread. They focus on the automatic creation of a thread, which occurs any time a receiver replies to a message. Moreover, they noted that:
It consists of all the sent and received messages on a topic that was named and inserted into the subject line by the sender of the initial message. It is thus the subject line which creates a tie among these messages and establishes some text-external coherence (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013: 43).
Crystal (2006) also recognizes the importance of using the same subject line as it allows correlated messages to be grouped together. Nevertheless, as Gimenez (2005) specified, the topic stated in the subject description of an email might contain other micro topics which arise during the development of a conversation.
The last point to call attention to, as argued by Gimenez (2006), is the accountability option resulting from embedded emails. What we mean by this is the capacity of emails to be stored and easily retrieved, allowing an electronic record to be collected.
2.3.5 S TRUCTURAL ELEMENTS
Structural elements are those fixed parts of the message that constitute an email. As Crystal (2006: 100) explains it, there is one part that is automatically given by the electronic system, namely the uppermost section, which is called header (or heading). Under that section we find the main part of the email: the body or message. In addition to this, a third part can also be added, namely the section where an attachment is situated.
The header is comprised of four core elements (Crystal 2006: 100):
▪ To: this indicates the email address(es) and/or the name of the receiver(s) of the message.
▪ From: it designates the email address of the sender, which is automatically typed in.
▪ Subject: this denotes the topic of the email, which must be inserted manually. It is not a compulsory element, but it is highly demanded by the system that will notify the sender in case of its absence. Together with the sender’s address/name, the subject is the first thing that appears when someone receives an email. For this reason, the subject line should be “clear, brief, relevant”
(Crystal 2006: 103).
▪ Date: it expresses the time and date in which the message was sent. This feature is automatically entered by the system.
Other elements might be added within the header field, which are both optional and are (Crystal 2006: 101; Poppi 2012: 181):
▪ Cc: this acronym stands for carbon copy (or courtesy copy) and is a way of letting the secondary recipients know about the message sent to the primary receivers.
Both the sender and the receiver(s) of the email are aware of these secondary recipients. Gimenez (2006) draws attention to the fact that the Cc field is a way to supervise one’s decisions.
▪ Bcc: this facility, which means blind carbon copy, allows other recipients, aside from the primary addressees, to receive the message. These recipients are not the main partakers of the conversation, but they are nonetheless informed by the sender, without the primary addressees knowing about this exchange.
Furthermore, as pointed out by Crystal (2006: 101), we might find two symbols in emails, i.e.
a paperclip and/or an exclamation mark. The former indicates that an attachment has been incorporated into the email, while the latter signals the priority of the message, which can be low, normal or high.
All these elements are fixed in the sense that one can decide whether to incorporate the optional fields or omit them but cannot change the order in which they appear. Moreover, the system will not send a message which does not follow exactly the structure mentioned above (Crystal 2006).
184.108.40.206 BODY OF THE MESSAGE
Following the header, we find the body of the message5, which can be divided into different framing moves (Poppi 2012: 181):
▪ Identifying subject
▪ Referring to previous contact
which help in the classification of what are called content moves identified by Louhiala- Salminen and Kankaanranta (2006) (Poppi 2012: 181):
▪ Indicating enclosure
▪ Providing information
▪ Requesting moves
Guidelines on how to write emails usually agree on the use of Grice’s (1975) conversational maxims (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013), which are mentioned by Crystal (2006:
❖ MAXIM OF QUALITY:be truthful.
❖ MAXIM OF RELEVANCE:make relevant and pertinent contributions.
❖ MAXIM OF QUANTITY:be adequately informative.
❖ MAXIM OF MANNER:be clear, brief, orderly and avoid obscurity and ambiguity.
5 A more detailed investigation on obligatory and optional elements is provided by Crystal (2006: 104- 112).
2.3.6 B USINESS EMAILS VS B USINESS LETTERS
The main focus of this study is business emails, which have mostly, but not completely, substituted paper documents (Petrie 1999). Based on their findings, Dürscheid and Frehner (2013) have predicted a tragic fate for email communication. Nevertheless, they argue that business email communication might persevere and maintain its function and survive this destiny as they play a very important role in the business sector.
Koester (2004) argues that business letters have not been dismissed completely yet. As a matter of fact, business letters are still the preferred communication genre for certain matters as they have the advantage of delivering objects such as documents (Dürscheid and Frehner 2013). Letters are more formal than emails, which convey less important types of documents. For this reason, letters are used when important documents, e.g. those with a legal content, are being dispatched (Koester 2004).
3 P ART TWO : S PEECH ACT THEORY AND POLITENESS
The email texts of claims that were collected contain speech acts, as well as politeness strategies. Therefore, the following chapters will elaborate on politeness strategies, alongside with some insights on speech act theory, in particular it will be investigated the complaining, request and apology speech acts.
Before touching on the definition and characterisation of some types of speech acts, it is of great importance to mention and bring our attention to politeness theory. The reason for this is that politeness is closely linked to speech acts. As a matter of fact, some speech acts are considered highly face threatening, as it will be discovered.
Leech confirms the interrelation between politeness and speech act theory as he “sees politeness as crucial in explaining the indirectness often used by people in conveying certain expressions” (Yang 2016: 208).
3.1 P OLITENESS THEORY
With regard to politeness theory, we must refer to Penelope Brown and Stephen C.
Levinson’s revolutionary work ‘Politeness: some universals in language usage’, in which the concept of politeness and its strategies were developed and postulated.
Before summarising the politeness strategies pointed out in the aforementioned book, some fundamental notions of face and face-threatening acts should be accurately outlined.
Brown and Levinson assume that all people have a face and they define it as “the public self-image that every member wants to claim for himself” (Brown and Levinson 1987: 61). This notion, which derives from Goffman’s concept of face, can be further distinguished into negative and positive face. The former describes the desire of not feeling constrained and having freedom of action, whereas the latter refers to being liked and approved of by others.
As Brown and Levinson (1987: 61) stated:
[…] face is something that is emotionally invested, and that can be lost, maintained, or enhanced, and must be constantly attended to in interaction. In general, people cooperate
(and assume each other’s cooperation) in maintaining face in interaction […] it is in general in every participant’s best interest to maintain each other’s face […].
With this definition of face in mind, we can infer another assumption: the idea of face- threatening acts (FTAs). When the authors of ‘Politeness: some universals in language usage’
talk about FTAs, they denote those verbal or non-verbal acts that undermine our face, either positive or negative one (Brown and Levinson 1987).
Whenever we speak with someone, we can choose between two options: to do the FTA or else to not do it. What happens if a speaker decides to do the FTA? Brown and Levinson came up with the following pattern:
Figure 2: Politeness strategies (Brown and Levinson 1987: 60).
Since when doing a face-threatening act the speaker or the hearer might lose their face, some strategies are adopted by the speaker to decrease the power intrinsically involved in these FTAs.
First of all, an FTA can be performed on or off record. By on record Brown and Levinson mean that the intentions of the speaker are clearly recognized and understood by the hearer.
On the other hand, doing an FTA off record indicates that the speaker purposefully leaves his/her intentions ambiguous and obscure “so that the actor cannot be held to have committed himself to one particular intent” (Brown and Levinson 1987: 69). To give a suitable
example for each strategy, the following sentences are formulated below:
▪ “Give me a snack” (FTA on record). In this sentence the univocal and unambiguous meaning is that the speaker asks the hearer to give him/her something to eat. The hearer has no hesitation in catching the meaning of the utterance.
▪ “I’m so hungry. I forgot to bring a snack with me” (FTA off record). In this last sentence the speaker is not clearly asking the hearer to do something, even though he/she might imply it (e.g. the speaker could point to the fact that he/she wants the addressee to give him/her a snack).
While doing a face-threatening act on record, the person might use a redressive action or not. Performing an act without redress (also referred to as baldly), means that, as reported by Brown and Levinson (1987: 69), the strive is for a “direct, clear, unambiguous and concise way” of saying things. An example of act without a redressive action is the sentence stated above: “Give me a snack”. The authors recognised that this type of act is carried out either in case of need or to be more efficient, so that the potential threat of the act is temporarily not so relevant, or else when the threat to the addressee’s face is of minor entity, “as in offers, requests, suggestions that are clearly in H’s interest and do not require great sacrifices of S”6 (Brown and Levinson 1987: 69).
With the term redressive action the speaker is aware of the threat to the hearer’s face and tries to minimise it by using modifications or additions, which suggest that no FTA was intentional. Therefore, the speaker will adopt one of the following strategies (Brown and Levinson 1987: 70):
❖ POSITIVE POLITENESS: it occurs whenever the speaker is mindful of the hearer’s positive face. In general, positive politeness involves claiming common ground, cooperation between the speaker and the hearer, and fulfilling the addressee’s wants (Brown and Levinson 1987: 102).
❖ NEGATIVE POLITENESS: is employed anytime that the negative face of the addressee comes first. Negative politeness strategies encompass not presuming/assuming,
6 In Brown and Levinson’s book (1987), S stands for “speaker”, while H indicates “hearer”. This terminology is also used by many other writers and will therefore be employed in this work.
avoidance of coercion toward the hearer, letting the addressee know that the speaker does not intend to impinge on the other interactant, but also redress other wants of the hearer. (Brown and Levinson 1987: 131). Sometimes, Brown and Levinson argue, being direct is also a way of getting to the point of a matter,
“avoiding the further imposition of prolixity and obscurity” (Brown and Levinson 1987: 130).
There are some factors that affect the way we do an FTA, such as relative power, social distance and the absolute ranking of imposition (Zhang 2001).
3.2 S PEECH ACT OVERVIEW
The email investigation was conducted in light of discourse analysis7, which comprises many different approaches. Speech act is part of discourse analysis and was developed from the study of pragmatics8. The origin of speech act is imputed to the philosopher of language J. Austin, who developed it in 1950s, and it was later elaborated by J. Searle, who was also a philosopher (Asy’ari 2018; Van Han 2014). In general, speech acts can be described as “the acts we perform when we speak: e.g., congratulating, thanking, requesting” (Murphy and Neu 1996: 191). Searle’s definition of speech acts is “the basic or minimal units of linguistic communication” (Searle 1969: 16). Austin’s conceptualization puts great emphasis on the meaning that a speaker wishes to convey and, in doing so, he identified a tripartite classification of speech acts (Asy’ari 2018: 4):
❖ LOCUTIONARY: the literal meaning, which is based on the actual, real-life context.
❖ ILLOCUTIONARY: the speaker’s communicative intentions. Under these circumstances, a sentence might have multiple meanings and purposes.
7 According to the online version of the Cambridge dictionary, discourse analysis is “the analysis of spoken or written texts that contain more than one sentence, including their social context”.
8 Pragmatics is “the study of how words and phrases are used with special meanings in particular situations”
(Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2009: 1359).
❖ PERLOCUTIONARY:the (un)intended effects of a statement.
Similarly, Leech describes the division of speech acts in the following way: “[…] a
LOCUTIONARY act (performing the act of saying something), an ILLOCUTIONARY act (performing an act in saying something), and a PERLOCUTIONARY act (performing an act by saying something)”
(Leech 1983: 199).
Both Austin and Searle distinguished illocutionary acts on the basis of their different functions or other criteria (Leech 1983). On the one hand, Austin’s classification is divided into five categories, as explained by Searle (1976: 1): VERDICTIVE, EXPOSITIVE, EXERCITIVE, BEHABITIVE and
COMMISSIVE. These basic categories identify respectively the delivery “of a finding, official or unofficial upon evidence or reasons […]”, “the giving of a decision in favour of or against a certain course of action or advocacy […]”, the commitment of “the speaker to a certain course of action”, “acts of exposition involving the expounding of views, the conducting of arguments and the clarifying of usages and reference” and the “reaction to other people’s behaviour and fortunes and of attitudes and expressions of attitudes to someone else’s past conduct or imminent conduct” (Searle 1976: 7). On the other hand, Searle, who draws on Austin’s taxonomy, criticized his distinction of illocutionary acts. In fact, he stressed the importance of making a clear distinction, which he believed Austin failed to do, between illocutionary verbs, which are intrinsic of a particular language, and illocutionary acts, which are part of language (Searle 1976). As a consequence, he proposed an alternative taxonomy consisting of five categories, which are described as follows (Searle 1976: 10-14):
❖ REPRESENTATIVES (also referred to as ASSERTIVES): commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition, e.g. “stating, suggesting, boasting, complaining, claiming, reporting” (Leech 1983: 105).
❖ DIRECTIVES: the speaker tries to get the hearer to do something. Some examples of verbs belonging to this class are ‘ask’, ‘request’, ‘invite’, ‘advise’, ‘command’.
❖ COMMISSIVES: the goal is to commit the speaker to some feature action e.g.
“promising, vowing, offering” (Leech 1983: 106).
❖ EXPRESSIVES:express the psychological state of the speaker concerning a state of affairs specified in the propositional content. Expressive verbs are, for instance,
‘thank’, ‘congratulate’, ‘apologize’, ‘condole’, ‘deplore’ and ‘welcome’.
❖ DECLARATIONS: the successful performance of these acts produces the
correspondence between the propositional content and the reality. To give an example, as Searle (1976: 13) puts it, “if the speaker successfully performs the act of marrying somebody, then he/she is married”. This category consists of
“resigning, dismissing, christening, naming […]” (Leech 1983: 106) and much more.
When it comes to politeness and speech acts, Leech stated that:
[…] as far as Searle’s categories go, negative politeness belongs pre-eminently to the DIRECTIVE class, while positive politeness is found pre-eminently in the COMMISSIVE and EXPRESSIVE classes (Leech 1983: 107).
It is argued that culture plays a crucial role in the performing of speech acts as it influences them. Zhang (2001: 18) reported that “[…] even though the language learners know how to perform a particular speech act in the new language, they are still unable to act accordingly in the new language because of the values and/or customs associated with their native language (Bouton, 1991)”.
3.2.1 T HE SPEECH ACT SET OF COMPLAINING
He Yang describes a complaint as “usually determined by a highly emotional situation in which it is hard for the speaker to keep control over the words uttered and remain tactful”
(Yang 2016: 207).
The speech act of complaining is articulated whenever a speaker reveals his/her displeasure or annoyance with regard to a previous or ongoing action, which the speaker believes has affected him/her adversely (Olshtain and Weinbach 1993). According to Searle, complaints are included in the category of expressive speech acts (Ghaznavi 2017).
To explain why we refer to the speech act of complaining as a speech act set, we must mention Tanck (2002: 2):
A speech act set is a combination of individual speech acts that, when produced together, comprise a complete speech act (Murphy and Neu, 1996). […] The speech act set is similar