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Emerging Email Etiquette (EEE)

Emerging Email Etiquette is an empirical research project that aims at identifying existing or emerging norms in email communication. We want to find out what communicative goals senders try to accomplish when writing emails - and how they do it, i.e. which linguistic strategies they employ.

At the moment, the project focuses on email communication in academia. The EEE corpus consists of emails sent to Professor Schneider since 2005 as well as emails sent to an Australian lecturer, which have been classified according to their pragmalinguistic function, e.g. speech acts such as request or apology, and coded for structural features. Based on this naturally occurring data, we examine if linguistic patterns emerge when students apologize for missed classes, request extension for deadlines or provide information to their professors.

Furthermore, we have employed methods such as JWTs (joint writing protocols) and TAPs (think aloud protocols) to capture the intentions of email senders when writing emails.

Recently, we have conducted a large-scale perception study in order to find out how email receivers perceive emails when reading them. Informants were asked to rate the appropriateness of a selection of emails in relation to the receiver (a university lecturer) and to comment specifically on why they rated an email as more / less appropriate. We use this cognitive and perceptual data from informants in correlation with linguistic patterns to gain a better understanding of the parameters of (un)successful email communication.

In the long run, we will broaden our research focus from academic emails to general email communication.

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