An investigation into the generic features of English requestive e-mail messages

Mohammed Nahar Al-Ali, Meera B. Sahawneh


This study examined generic and registerial similarities and differences between requestive email messages written by American native speakers and Jordanian nonnative speakers of English. In order to minimize the influence of status and power variables on the formulation of email messages, a sample of eighty email messages written by undergraduate students to the same prospective reader were selected for analysis. The collected texts were subjected to generic move structure analysis. Although the email messages share the same communicative purpose, the comparison between the two sets of texts revealed different linguistic and rhetorical preferences in terms of pressure tactics utilized, presentation of moves and the linguistic realization of these moves. The Jordanian writers tend put emphasis on the interpersonal elements and to use the self-submission, supplemented by unsupported claims; the Americans, instead, give priority to the propositional content and use objective supported claims to prove that their imposition is unintentional. The study attempts to provide some potential explanations for these infelicities related to the subliminal influence of native socio- ultural norms and the insufficient exposure to the pragmalinguistic contextualization conventions.

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