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Title:A comparison of Chinese and American student academic email requests to faculty in higher education in the United States
Author(s):Jia, Hanyu
Advisor(s):Koshik, Irene A
Contributor(s):Sadler, Randall W
Department / Program:Linguistics
Discipline:Teaching of English Sec Lang
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Email requests
discourse analysis
ESL learners
Abstract:Emails have become one of the most commonly used medium for students to make requests to professors in institutional settings for their convenience and efficiency. However, many international students studying in the U.S. may feel it difficult to write email requests to people in a higher status where power asymmetry should be maintained. Some international students may write inappropriate email requests unintentionally because they use their L1 pragmatic norms when writing emails to American English speakers. To contribute to the understanding of email requests in the institutional context of university settings, this study combines speech act research with discourse analysis methodology to examine how native speakers of American English and native speakers of Chinese formulate email requests to faculty. This study collected authentic emails written by Chinese and American students who studied in a U.S. university. Along with each email the participant submitted, information related to the recipient was collected. I use the methodology of discourse analysis to investigate how imposition level of emails and senders’ entitlement to make the request affect students’ language choices. These findings demonstrate that Chinese students have some pragmatic infelicities in their email requests, such as underuse of internal and external modifications for high-imposition requests, pre-assuming that the requestee would grant the request, not acknowledging the imposition posed on the requestee. Chinese students use different, culturally influenced requestive strategies than American students when writing email requests. This study finally offers pedagogical implications for teaching email requests to English learners. This study contributes to our understanding of the requestive patterns of Chinese and American students as well as the similarities and differences between emails written by American students and those written by Chinese students. It contributes to the field of cross-cultural pragmatic studies on the speech act of request by L2 speakers.
Issue Date:2019-07-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Hanyu Jia
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08

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