A cross-cultural investigation of email communication in Peninsular Spanish and British English
The role of (in)formality and (in)directness
This paper examines the email discursive practices of particular speakers of two different languages, namely Peninsular Spanish and British English. More specifically, our study focuses on (in)formality and (in)directness therein, for these lie at the heart of considerable scholarly debate regarding, respectively (i) the general stylistic drift towards orality and informality in technology-mediated communication, and (ii) the degree of communicative (in)directness – within broader politeness orientations – of speakers of different languages, specifically an orientation towards directness in Peninsular Spanish vis-à-vis indirectness in British English. The aim of this paper is thus to investigate the role of (in)formality and (in)directness in email messages sent by members of two groups of undergraduate students to their university lecturers. To this end, a corpus of 100 impromptu emails was compiled and analysed. Results revealed complex, fluctuating patterns regarding levels of (in)formality and (in)directness that underlined cross-cultural variation in the way that different sociopragmatic principles found expression in a specific computer-mediated communicative situation.
Keywords: cross-cultural pragmatics, (in)formality, (in)directness, (Peninsular) Spanish, computer-mediated communication, email, (British) English
Published online: 08 March 2013
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