Business and Pleasure; a Multimodal Approach to (Im)politeness in Email Data

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper analyses the multimodal features in business emails between a British sole trader and 19 of her international clients. Within this data, emoticons, non-standard punctuation, textual alterations (bold, italic etc.), graphologically separated text (postscripts, subject lines) and the use of multimedia, may in some cases indicate deviation away from business talk into talk that is ‘tie strengthening’ (Milroy & Milroy, 1992) or relationship-oriented (Kádár, 2013) and (im)politeness-relevant. These features can also inform the recipient’s interpretation of the message, or add an extra layer of meaning to the text (Kankaanranta, 2006; Skovholt, Grønning, & Kankaanranta, 2014). Graphological separation can place part of the text obviously away from the main body, allowing the writer space to do relational work, or add supplementary content that is separate from the main email content. What is chosen for inclusion in these areas can help the recipient’s interpretation of the message’s meaning and possible intended tone. The diverse range of effects created by these alterations to an email message demonstrate their importance to the study of multimodal politeness in computer mediated communication.
Period17 Jul 2017
Event title15th International Pragmatics Conference: Pragmatics in the Real World
Event typeConference
Conference number15
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • multimodality
  • relational work
  • email
  • emoticons
  • business-client interaction