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ERIC Number: EJ1083913
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 29
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0826-435X
Request Strategies in Professional E-Mail Correspondence: Insights from the United States Workplace
Leopold, Lisa
TESL Canada Journal, v32 n2 p1-29 2015
Despite growing interest in the rhetorical features of e-mail correspondence, this is the first study to examine the request strategies in e-mails written by native English-speaking professionals from a variety of industries in the United States. This study uses Blum-Kulka, House, and Kasper's (1989) speech act framework to analyze the request strategies from 450 request head acts. Though often mitigated with lexico-syntactic devices, direct requests occurred at about two and one half times the rate of indirect requests, and there was some variation in request strategy according to request category, gender, status, and social distance. Although the imperative was used most frequently across all gender, status, and social distance groups, senders did not choose it--the most direct strategy--as often with recipients to whom they wrote direct requests most frequently. This shows that senders may prefer particular direct or indirect strategies over others with certain recipients. Moreover, senders often used more mitigators with recipients to whom they more frequently wrote direct requests, thus suggesting that the politeness of a request cannot be judged solely by the request strategy chosen. As the first corpus-based study that examines authentic request e-mails in the North American workplace, this study offers important pedagogical implications for professional e-mail composition.
TESL Canada Federation. 408-4370 Dominion Street, Burnaby, BC V5G 4L7, Canada. Tel: 604-298-0312; Fax: 604-298-0372; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A