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Linguistic Association of the Southwest


This paper examines the mitigation in email communication between two supervisors and a subordinate, to investigate how this feature differs in requests written in English and Spanish by native speakers of each language. Forty-seven emails were harvested from a span of three and a half years. The Spanish-speaking supervisor's requests contained fewer mitigation devices of every type. Although the requests written in Spanish contained less mitigation, this does not mean that this supervisor's email communication was devoid of facework. On the contrary, his use of imperatives and other direct strategies may have been intended as a form of positive politeness. Its reception (i.e. its interpretation by the receiver), however, was often otherwise, given the fact that both the receiver and the other supervisor were LI English speakers, and the fact that, especially in comparison, the latter's requests did contain the indirect strategies that characterize linguistic politeness in English.


Reprinted with permission.



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