Move and Politeness Strategies in Job Application Letters in ASEAN Contexts

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Angkana Tongpoon-Patanasorn
Phanupong Thumnong


Many scholars agree that cultural differences affect text organization and pragmatic realization of the communicative goal of a genre, and that certain moves within a genre can be accomplished by different strategies. However, there is a dearth of research on job application letters in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and knowledge about cultural differences in terms of politeness strategies in this region is limited. This study investigated move and politeness strategies used in job application letters written by ASEAN applicants. Data were collected from 30 job application letters written by applicants from six different nationalities. Two coding schemes were employed, and the results showed that ASEAN applicants employed slightly different strategies in their moves, including promoting candidature and enclosing documents. The findings also suggested that ASEAN applicants mostly use positive politeness strategies to self-promote and negative politeness strategies to encourage further contact. Interestingly, three positive strategies which were previously found only in spoken communication (i.e., conventional indirectness, impersonal tone, and nominalization) were employed by ASEAN applicants in this study. In sum, ASEAN writers as a whole represent a region that shares a great deal of communicative norms in the genre of job application letters.


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