University Of Tasmania
149504 - Saying no in Mandarin Chinese.pdf (1.04 MB)

Saying “no” in emails in Mandarin Chinese and Australian English

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 06:49 authored by Wei LiWei Li
The present study examined the differences between Mandarin Chinese and Australian English in email refusals. An email production questionnaire (EPQ) and retrospective verbal reports (RVR) were used to collect data. Results showed that while both groups preferred directness to indirectness at the utterance level, Chinese participants used indirectness significantly more frequently than Australian participants in refusals of requests. In addition, Chinese refusals were more indirect than Australian refusals at the discourse level. Chinese participants chose significantly more supportive moves than Australian participants and tended to put multiple supportive moves before the direct head act in refusals of either invitations or requests. The two groups also differed considerably in the content of refusal strategies. Moreover, both the EPQ and RVR data showed that Chinese were more sensitive to social status than Australians. The findings of this study were broadly consistent with studies on refusals in oral communication despite some differences.


Publication title

Journal of Politeness Research








School of Humanities


De Gruyter Mouton

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Communication across languages and culture; Languages and linguistics