IJLLL 2020 Vol.6(2): 112-116 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2020.6.2.261

Exploring the Interpersonal Meaning Reflected by Epistemic Modality in Business Emails: A Corpus-Based Study

Xue Xiao
Abstract—To date, the significance of epistemic modality is widely approved not only in semantics but also in relation to its functions. A repertoire of previous research have explored the role of epistemic modality in legal and academic texts. Yet its functions in business emails have failed to attract researchers’ attention. Given emails as prevalent communication media in foreign trade, the present study was conducted as a first step in the investigation of interpersonal meaning implied in epistemic modality used in authentic business emails. For this study, the corpus consist of 400 business emails written in English and collected from a foreign trade corporation located in China with annual sales as 1.6-1.8 billion RMB. Within corpus, both congruent and metaphorical epistemic modal expressions were retrieved by Antconc and examined using concordance line. Afterwards, the interpersonal meaning of retrieved epistemic modal expressions were analyzed based on modality values and orientations. The results highlighted the politeness and negotiative functions of epistemic modality used in the business emails, which might enlighten foreign trade practitioners to achieve diverse communicative purposes by utilizing epistemic modal expressions selectively.

Index Terms—Business email, epistemic modality, interpersonal meaning.

Xue Xiao is with the School of Foreign Languages for Business, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China (e-mail: xiaoxiaokongmen@163.com).

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Cite: Xue Xiao, "Exploring the Interpersonal Meaning Reflected by Epistemic Modality in Business Emails: A Corpus-Based Study," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 112-116, 2020.

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