(Im)politeness and Emotion in Academic Correspondence


  • Juan Antonio Caldero Coventry University
  • Lin Sun Southwest University of Political Science and Law




academic correspondence, requests, positive politeness, negative politeness, pragmatic failure


Wechat and email are the principal platforms of online interactivity in academia. Lack of English language pragmatism and the transfer of polite requests from L1 into L2 might have the outcome of perception of (im)politeness. Speakers might encounter issues distinguishing between orders vs. want i.e. requests. A certain adherence to the pragmatic clarity of the message is an essential part of inferring (im)politeness. (Im)politeness could be addressed as communication strategy with the main purpose of (breaking)maintaining relations between the interlocutors. In academic correspondence both the use of direct and non-conventional indirect strategies by Chinese students’ positive politeness might be inferred as impolite by British academics’ negative politeness. This research shows how Chinese L2 English’s academic correspondence might lead to the emotion of mild irritation triggered by the reader’s inferring of (im)politeness; therefore, an intended degree on (im)politeness requires an appropriate level of pragmatic competence in L1.

Author Biographies

Juan Antonio Caldero, Coventry University

Faculty of Business and Law

Lin Sun, Southwest University of Political Science and Law

School of Foreign Languages


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