This volume reports on a large-scale quantitative investigation into a
variety of face-threatening acts in authentic institutional discourse. The
contrastive analysis is based on a substantial corpus of 600 native
English, interlanguage (Dutch-English) and native Dutch business letters.
In all, over 2,000 tokens of face-threatening acts are analyzed, covering a
wide range of face threats (such as requesting, promising, offering,
inviting, warning, apologizing, wishing, thanking, and confirming).
The analysis, which employs Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness model,
focuses on a number of distinct but related research questions, such as:
-Pragmatic Variation: How are face-threatening acts realized in written
business discourse? In particular, to what extent do writers use lexical,
syntactic and textual resources to mark (im)politeness?
-Interlanguage Variation: To what extent do native and interlanguage
English realizations differ? Can such differences, partly or completely, be
attributed to pragmatic transfer from the interlanguage users’ L1 (in this
-Cross-Cultural Variation: To what extent do English and Dutch realizations
differ, and what repercussions does this have in terms of politeness?
The book attempts to bridge the gap between three fields: politeness
research, institutional discourse studies, and cross-cultural pragmatics
(see also the Geluykens & Kraft 2008 volume in this series). It should thus
be of interest not just to researchers working in the field of linguistic
(im)politeness, but also to all those interested in institutional discourse
in general, and business writing in particular, and last but not least to
practitioners in cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics.