Do Chinese students waffle in their apologies? An exploration into EFL learners’ emails

Miao Hsia Chang*, J. Curran, Y. K. Hsu, C. C. Hsu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to investigate whether the “waffle” phenomenon is revealed in EFL learners’ apology emails in an academic context. A total of 60 students participated in this study. They comprised three groups of undergraduate students: 20 native proficient speakers of English (PSEs), 20 Chinese EFL learners (EFLCs), and 20 proficient speakers of Chinese (PSCs). The results demonstrate both generality and specificity in language users’ apology realizations. The generality is indicated by all the participants’ preference for “Direct Apology,” “Account,” “Taking on Responsibility,” and “Offers of Repair.” Specificity is noticeable in the waffling of the “Account” strategy by EFLCs. The findings shed light on the importance of explicit instruction of the pragmalinguistic features and the sociocultural values accepted in the target culture, and in the case of the current study, formality and conciseness of the language.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmail Discourse among Chinese using English as a Lingua Franca
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9789812878885
ISBN (Print)9789812878878
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1


  • Apologies
  • Chinese EFL learners
  • Pragmalinguistic features
  • Sociopragmatic features
  • Waffling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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