Modal Markers in Chinese E-mails Produced by Students of Learning Chinese as Foreign Language

Authors

  • Yang Lili Soochow University/University of Bergen

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/rtcfl.40559

Keywords:

E-mail, modal expressions, proficiency, speech acts

Abstract

The present study attempts to investigate the difference of the use of modal markers in the Chinese e-mails by students of CFL (Learning Chinese as Foreign Language) at different proficiency Chinese levels. 35 CFL from the department of the School of Chinese Language and Literature, SooChow University, were divided into two groups according to their Chinese proficiency. The politeness of participants’ performance was evaluated based on two aspects: modal expressions and whole appropriateness. They were asked to write 8 e-mails on the topics provided, including two discourse styles (formal-informal) and four speech acts (suggestions, invitations, refusals, requests). Quantitative analysis revealed the differences between the two groups in the usage of modal expressions in e-mails, so as to distinguish the pragmatic awareness and pragmatic knowledge of Chinese foreign language learners at the different proficiency levels.

Author Biography

Yang Lili, Soochow University/University of Bergen

Yang Lili – Associate professor School of Chinese Language and Literature, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.Visiting Scholar of University of Bergen, Norway (2019–2020)Research field: Cognitive Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition.

References

Bartley, L. and Hidalgo-Tenorio, E. (2016). ‘Well, I think that my argument is … ,’ or modality in a learner corpus of English, Revista Española de Lingüística Aplicada/Spanish Journal of Applied Linguistics. 29(1):1–29. https://doi.org/10.1075/resla.29.1.01bar

Baumgarten, N. and House, J. (2010). ‘I think’ and ‘I don’t know’ in English as lingua franca and native English discourse, Journal of Pragmatics. 42(5): 1184–1200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.09.018

Brown, P. and Levinson, S. (1978). Universals in language usage: politeness phenomena. In E. Goody (Ed.), Questions and Politeness, 56–289. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., and Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Biesenbach-Lucas, S, (2006). Making requests in e-mail: do cyber-consultations entail directness? Toward conventions in a new medium. In K. Bardovi-Harlig, J. C., Felix-Brasdefer, and A. Omar (Eds), Pragmatics and Language Learning, vol. 11, 81–107. [National Foreign Language Resource Center] University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, HI.

Biesenbach-Lucas, S. (2007). Students writing e-mails to faculty: an examination of e-politeness among native and non-native speakers of English. Language Learning and Technology.11 (2): 59–81.

Chen, Chi-Fen E. (2001).Making e-mail requests to professors: Taiwanese vs. American students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, St. Louis, USA.

Chen, Chi-Fen E. (2006). The development of email literacy: from writing to peers to writing to authority figures. Language Learning and Technology.10 (2): 35–55.

Chen, H. I. (2010). Contrastive learner corpus analysis of epistemic modality and interlanguage pragmatic competence in L2 writing. Arizona Working Papers in SLA and Teaching. 17: 27–36.

Chen, Yuan-shan (2014). Understanding of development of Chinese EFL learners’ email literacy through Exploratory Practice. Language Teaching Research, 20: 165–180. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168814562014

Chen, Yuan-shan (2015). Developing Chinese EFL learners’ email literacy through requests to faculty, Journal of Pragmatics 75: 131–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.05.009

Chen, Z. (2012). Expression of epistemic stance in EFL Chinese university students’ writing. English Language Teaching. 5(10): 173–179. https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v5n10p173

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2008). Internal and external mitigation in interlanguage request production: The case of Greek learners of English. Journal of Politeness Research: Language, Behaviour, Culture 4 (1), 111–138. https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2008.005

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2009). Interlanguage request modification: The use of lexical/phrasal downgraders and mitigating supportive moves. Multilingua. 28 (1): 79–111. https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2009.004

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2011). ‘Please answer me as soon as possible’: Pragmatic failure in non-native speakers’ e-mail requests to faculty, Journal of Pragmatics. 43 (13): 3193–3215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.06.006

Fordyce, K. (2009). A comparative study of learner corpora of spoken and written discursive language: Focusing on the use of epistemic forms by Japanese EFL learners. Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education. 12: 135–150.

Félix-Brasdefer, C. (2007). Pragmatic development in the Spanish as a FL classroom. Intercultural Pragmatics. 4 (2): 253–286. https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2007.013

Granger, S. and Rayson, P. (1998). Automatic profiling of learner texts. In S. Granger (Ed.): Learner English on Computer. 119–123. London: Longman. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315841342-9

Gilquin, G. and Paquot, M. (2008). Too chatty: Learner academic writing and register variation, English Text Construction. 1: 41–61. https://doi.org/10.1075/etc.1.1.05gil

Hassall, T. (1999). Request strategies in Indonesian. Pragmatics 9 (4), 585–606. https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.9.4.02has

Hassall, T. (2012). Request modification by Australian learners of Indonesian. In M. Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. and H. Woodfield (Eds), Interlanguage Request Modification, 203-242. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.217.07has

Hartford, Beverly S. and Bardovi-Harlig, K. (1996). ‘At your earliest convenience’: A study of written student requests to faculty. In L. Bouton (Ed.), Pragmatics and Language Learning, Volume 7, 55–69. Urbana-Campaign, IL: Division of English as an International Language. University of Illinois

Hinkel, E. (2005). Hedging, inflating, and persuading in L2 academic writing, Applied Language Learning. 15(1): 29–35.

Hendriks, B. (2010). An experimental study of native speaker perceptions of non-native request modification in emails in English. Intercultural Pragmatics 7 (2), 221–255. https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2010.011

Hunston, S. and Thompson, G. (2000). Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Con­struction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hoye, L. (1997) Adverbs and Modality in English. London: Longman

Kankaanranta (2006)[to come]

Kasper, G. (2006). Speech acts in interaction: Towards discursive pragmatics. In K. Bardovi-Harlig, J. C. Félix-Brasdefer, and A. S. Omar (Eds), Pragmatics & Language Learning, Vol. 11, 281–314. University of Hawai‘i at Manoa: National Foreign Language Resource Center.

Kasper, G. and Rose, K. R. (2002). Pragmatic Development in a Second Language. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Kasper, G. and Schmidt, R. (1996). Developmental issues in interlanguage pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition. 18: 149–169. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100014868

Karkkainen, E. (2006). Stance taking in conversation: From subjectivity to intersubjectivity, Text & Talk 26(6): 699–731. https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2006.029

Narrog, H. (2010), (Inter)subjectification in the domain of modality and mood-Concepts and cross-linguistic realities, In K. Davidse, L. Vandelanotte, and H. Cuyckens (Eds), Subjectification, Intersubjectification, and Grammaticalization, 385–430. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110226102.4.385

Nuyts, J. (2001). Epistemic Modality. Language and Conceptualization: A CognitivePragmatic Perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/hcp.5

Palmer , F. R. (1986). Mood and Modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Palmer, F. R. (1990). Modality and the English Modal. London: Longman.

Savic Milica (2008) Lecturer perceptions of im/politeness and in/appropriateness in student e-mail requests: A Norwegian perspective, Journal of Pragmatics. 124: 52–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2017.12.005

Salsbury, T. and Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2001). ‘I know you mean, but I don’t think so:’ Disagreements in L2 English. In L. F. Bouton (Ed.), Pragmatics and Language Learning, Vol. 10. 131–151. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Division of English as an International Language.

Tahmineh T. (2013) Epistemic Modal Markers in L2 Learners’ Persuasive Letters. Inter­national Journal of Language and Linguistics. 1( 4):199–205. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijll.20130104.25

Yasuda, S. (2011). Genre-based tasks in foreign language writing: developing writers’ genre awareness, linguistic knowledge and writing competence. Journal of Second Language Writing. 20, 111–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2011.03.001

Zhang, G. Q. and Sabet, P. G. (2016). Elastic ‘I think’: Stretching over L1 and L2, Applied Linguistics 37(3): 334–335. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amu020

Published

2020-10-26

How to Cite

Lili, Y. (2020). Modal Markers in Chinese E-mails Produced by Students of Learning Chinese as Foreign Language. Researching and Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language, 3(1), 65–86. https://doi.org/10.1558/rtcfl.40559

Issue

Section

Articles