Exploring Politeness in Business Emails A Mixed-Methods Analysis Author: Vera Freytag

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11 Oct 2019
Language at Work
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


Exploring Politeness in Business Emails explores the contextual complexities of workplace emails by comparing British English and Peninsular Spanish directive speech events and systematically assessing the impact of contextual factors. Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, and the inclusion of metapragmatic insights in the interpretation of the results, the book offers an innovative approach to the study of politeness. The book partially contradicts previous assumptions about English and Spanish directives and provides new insights into the role of politeness in the workplace. By offering a meticulous account of the linguistic choices made by the English and Spanish first language users and the contextual factors influencing these choices, the book suggests far-reaching implications for future research in cross-cultural pragmatics and business discourse, as well as practical implications relevant for academics, postgraduate students and practitioners interested in these fields.


This book is a timely and welcome contribution to the field. It rests on solid interdisciplinary theoretical grounds and employs an innovative, carefully designed methodological framework to examine two comparable data sets of naturally-occurring, socially-situated emails in British English and Peninsular Spanish. Its ethnographically-informed interpretation of the texts sheds fresh light on our understanding of language variation vis-à-vis a number of relevant social factors.

- Patricia Bou-Franch, Universitat de València, Spain

Politeness is like oil that allows the cogs of human interaction to run smoothly. However, not everybody uses the same oil and the cogs may grind to a halt when the 'wrong oil' is applied. This highly innovative book shows how the cogs function in cross-cultural business communication.

- Jean-Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

This book by Vera Freytag is an important contribution to such diverse fields as cross-cultural pragmatics, institutional discourse, and politeness research. In her analysis of directive speech events in English and Spanish (L1) emails, she employs an innovative mixed-method analysis to reveal the interactive dynamics of computer-mediated communication (CMC).

- Ronald Geluykens, University of Oldenburg, Germany

[This] is a well-written book that provides valuable insights into the choice of head act strategies, request modification in business directive emails and how these are determined by the interpersonal parameters of the interaction.

- LINGUIST List 31.1983 - Nicolas Ruytenbeek, Ghent University, Belgium

Author Biography:

Vera Freytag is a Consumer Interaction Specialist for Beiersdorf AG in Germany. Her research interests include CMC, business discourse, sociolinguistics and politeness.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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