Pragmatic Empathy as a Grand Strategy in Business Letter Writing

  •  Xu Zhanghong    
  •  Wang Qian    


This paper examines the employment of pragmatic empathy as a grand strategy in business letter writing. To account for the realization of pragmatic empathy in business letters, we make a corpus-based manual analysis of four types of business letters. It is found that (1) the choice of deixis is a major concern in most letters: while second person is often used in competitive letters, first or third person frequently appears in other three types of letters; (2) conventionalized indirectness strategy is often used in competitive business letters while mitigation strategy is preferred in conflictive business letters; (3) the employment of different strategies is an adaptation to various empathetic concerns in business letter writing. It is concluded that different types of business letters are characterized by different pragmatic strategies to achieve empathy. This paper, which is an attempt to investigate business letters from the empathy perspective, sheds light on business discourse research in general and business letter writing in particular.

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