Modal Verbs [1] for Politeness in Email Requests to Professors: The Case of Chinese EFL Learners

| March 24, 2012
Title
Modal Verbs [1] for Politeness in Email Requests to Professors: The Case of Chinese EFL Learners

Keywords: EFL learners, politeness, modal verbs, emails

Authors
Wuhan Zhu
University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Bio Data
Wuhan Zhu is a Doctoral candidate in the School of English at the University of Sheffield in the UK. He had been teaching English and linguistics in China. He obtained his MA and BA in English linguistics and Education from Nanjing Normal University, China. He has published eight academic papers in Chinese and international linguistic journals. His current interests include applied linguistics, pragmatics and cross cultural communication.

Abstract
This paper is motivated by the premise that not much is known about how English modal verbs are used to express politeness in Chinese English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) contexts. Specifically, this study examines and compares the use of modal verbs in email requests between two groups of Chinese EFL learners, namely English majors (EMs) and non-English majors (NEMs), in order to disclose the learners English-proficiency factors for linguistic variation. An in-depth comparison of the use of modals in head acts and supportive moves, and the choices of perspectives that are closely related to the modal verbs was conducted within and between the two groups. The study, therefore, sheds light on the sub-strategies (their form, function and distribution) of speech acts in Non- Native English speaking (NNEs) contexts. This paper adds to the body of Inter-language Pragmatics (ILP) research through revealing learners pragmatic ability of using modal verbs. The paper finally offers some pedagogical implications in foreign language settings.

[private] See page: 100-141

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 14 Issue 1