Professional e-mail communication in higher education in Hong Kong: A case study

Phoenix W Y LAM

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


E-mail has firmly established itself as a dominant channel of interaction for both social and professional purposes. Despite its importance as a communication tool, the influence of professional roles on discursive practices has yet to be thoroughly addressed, especially when e-mail is specifically used between academics, students, and other relevant stakeholders in the higher education setting, where English is a second or foreign language. Through the case study of an e-mail corpus containing messages received by an academic in one year, this paper investigates the general discursive patterns, discourse structures, and nonstandard linguistic features of e-mail discourse in higher education in Hong Kong. Specifically, it examines how such discursive practices are influenced by sender roles and sender-receiver relationships. Findings from the present study show traces of interdiscursivity in e-mail use in the academic domain and how sender roles influence the level of interdiscursivity between e-mail and genres of old and new. The similarities and differences in the discursive practices between academic professionals and students in e-mail communication also underscore the importance of having more fine-grained accounts of e-mail use in a wide range of settings in professional communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
JournalText and Talk
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Discursive practice
  • E-mail
  • Institutional discourse
  • Professional communication
  • Register variation


Dive into the research topics of 'Professional e-mail communication in higher education in Hong Kong: A case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this