Apologies in business communication

Laura Čubajevaitė, Jūratė Ruzaitė


The aim of the present paper is to examine the routine of apologizing in spoken business communication. Being face-threatening acts, apologies are of special importance in communication. Since apologies express sincerity and are remedial acts, apologizing helps to enhance mutual respect and to keep the relationship between colleagues stable, which is especially important in business communication. The present analysis focuses on four main expressions of explicit apologies, i.e. apologies with sorry, I apologise, pardon and excuse me. The data have been obtained from the sub-corpus of the British National Corpus, which includes transcripts of business communication and amounts to 1,321,844 words. The analysis accounts for the general frequency of different forms of apology in business communication as well as their frequency in relation to gender. The paper also focuses on the most typical patterns of apologies and argues that apologies range from neutral to highly emphatic or tentative. Finally, the present analysis investigates what is commonly apologised for in business settings.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5128/ERYa3.05


apologies; face-saving; politeness; gender; situational context; English

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5128/ERYa3.05


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Copyright (c) 2012 Laura Čubajevaitė, Jūratė Ruzaitė

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ISSN 1736-2563 (print)
ISSN 2228-0677 (online)
DOI 10.5128/ERYa.1736-2563