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New Approaches to the Study of Linguistic Variability

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Edited By Markus Bieswanger and Amei Koll-Stobbe

The fourth volume in the series Language Competence and Language Awareness in Europe features contributions from various philologies in the young but rapidly growing research area of linguistic variability. The book grew out of a nucleus of papers presented at a North German Linguistics Workshop organised by the chair of English Linguistics, and developed into a collection of doctoral and post-doctoral research papers on variability in different domains of language use, variability as conceptual cum linguistic variability, and variability as studied in the mainstream research framework of corpus linguistics. It is the integrative presentation of thematic breadth and pluralistic research methodologies that inspired the title New Approaches to the Study of Linguistic Variability. The volume focuses on sociolinguistic studies of language use as social practice and variability of authentic language use.

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IV. Variability in electronically-mediated communication

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V. Variability in electronically-mediated communication Apologies and excuses in academic e-mail communication: Differentiation and characterization from a pragmatic perspective Jana Kiesendahl1 Introduction Apologies are a communicative practice of everyday life, appearing both in pri- vate and institutional communication when social norms are (supposedly) vio- lated. With the help of apologies, people express how they describe, interpret and evaluate their own actions and those of others (cf. Wunderlich 1976: 32). Apologies require a high degree of communicative competence: the recipi- ents’ expectations must be anticipated, the communication situation must be considered and finally an appropriate phrasing as well as convincing arguments must be found (cf. Weidacher 2011: 51). In asynchronous written communica- tion, there is no possibility for immediate feedback,2 which is why the sender has to plan his/her text from the outset in the best possible way to achieve his/her goal. Linguistic action patterns relieve the speaker from this complex task by providing conventionalized phrases for recurring communicative pur- poses. In earlier studies (e.g. Weidacher 2011), apologies referring to past behav- iour as well as excuses referring to future behaviour were included in the corpus and were thought to be identical speech acts. However, in my earlier study about academic e-mail communication (Kiesendahl 2011), I distinguished them on the basis of their reference points in time. I therefore call apologies referring to past behaviour apologies and those referring to a future event excuses. So far it has not been empirically tested whether apologies referring to a past behaviour and...

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