Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2215-1478
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1486
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Lexical bundles are frequently recurring word sequences (e.g. ) that function as building blocks of discourse. This corpus-based study examined the use of four-word lexical bundles in business emails written by three groups of writers: intermediate business English learners, advanced business English learners, and working professionals. The prominent structural and functional characteristics of lexical bundles expressed in business emails were identified and compared across the three groups. The results showed that lexical bundles were related to the extent to which formality and politeness were expressed in written business communications. The advanced business English learners and working professionals used more structural and functional characteristics of lexical bundles that are characteristic of written conventions than did intermediate business English learners. Both intermediate and advanced learner groups used functionally different lexical bundles from those produced by the working professionals.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aimoldina, A. , Zharkynbekova, S. , & Akynova, D.
    (2016) Investigating pragmatic failures in business letters of Kazakhstani professionals. Procedia Economics and Finance, 39 , 65–70. 10.1016/S2212‑5671(16)30241‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(16)30241-6 [Google Scholar]
  2. Anthony, L.
    (2020) AntConc (Version 3.5.9) [Computer software]. Waseda University.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Baron, N. S.
    (2002) Who sets e-mail style? Prescriptivism, coping strategies, and democratizing communication access. Information Society, 18 (5), 403–413. 10.1080/01972240290108203
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01972240290108203 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bestgen, Y.
    (2013) Inadequacy of the chi-squared test to examine vocabulary differences between corpora. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 29 (2), 164–170. 10.1093/llc/fqt020
    https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqt020 [Google Scholar]
  5. (2020) Comparing lexical bundles across corpora of different sizes: The Zipfian problem. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 27 (3), 272–290. 10.1080/09296174.2019.1566975
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09296174.2019.1566975 [Google Scholar]
  6. Biber, D. , & Barbieri, F.
    (2007) Lexical bundles in university spoken and written registers. English for Specific Purposes, 26 (3), 263–286. 10.1016/j.esp.2006.08.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2006.08.003 [Google Scholar]
  7. Biber, D. , Conrad, S. , & Cortes, V.
    (2004) If you look at …: Lexical bundles in university teaching and textbooks. Applied Linguistics, 25 (3), 371–405. 10.1093/applin/25.3.371
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/25.3.371 [Google Scholar]
  8. Biber, D. , Stig, J. , Geoffrey, L. , Conrad, S. , & Finegan, E.
    (1999) Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Pearson Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Brown, P. , & Levinson, S.
    (1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511813085
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085 [Google Scholar]
  10. Bybee, J. L. , & Beckner, C.
    (2015) Usage-based theory. In B. Heine & H. Narrog (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of linguistic analysis. Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Bychkovska, T. , & Lee, J. J.
    (2017) At the same time: Lexical bundles in L1 and L2 university student argumentative writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 30 , 38–52. 10.1016/j.jeap.2017.10.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2017.10.008 [Google Scholar]
  12. Chan, C. S. C.
    (2019) Long-term workplace communication needs of business professionals: Stories from Hong Kong senior executives and their implications for ESP and higher education. English for Specific Purposes, 56 , 68–83. 10.1016/j.esp.2019.07.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2019.07.003 [Google Scholar]
  13. Chen, Y. H.
    (2009) Investigating lexical bundles across learner writing development (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Lancaster University.
  14. Chen, Y. H. , & Baker, P.
    (2010) Lexical bundles in L1 and L2 academic writing. Language Learning & Technology, 14 (2), 30–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. (2016) Investigating criterial discourse features across second language development: Lexical bundles in rated learner essays, CEFR B1, B2 and C1. Applied Linguistics, 37 (6), 849–880.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Conrad, S. M. , & Biber, D.
    (2005) The frequency and use of lexical bundles in conversation and academic prose. Lexicographica, 20 , 56–71. 10.1515/9783484604674.56
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783484604674.56 [Google Scholar]
  17. Cortes, V.
    (2004) Lexical bundles in published and student disciplinary writing: Examples from history and biology. English for Specific Purposes, 23 (4), 397–423. 10.1016/j.esp.2003.12.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2003.12.001 [Google Scholar]
  18. Evans, S.
    (2014) Teaching business correspondence: Lessons from the globalised workplace. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1 (2), 102–120.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Flowerdew, L.
    (2012) Exploiting a corpus of business letters from a phraseological, functional perspective. ReCALL, 24 (2), 152–168. 10.1017/S0958344012000043
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0958344012000043 [Google Scholar]
  20. Forsberg, F. , & Bartning, I.
    (2010) Can linguistic features discriminate between the communicative CEFR-levels? : A pilot study of written L2 French. In I. Bartning , M. Martin , & I. Vedder (Eds.), Communicative proficiency and linguistic development: Intersections between SLA and language testing research (pp.133–157). John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Freytag, V.
    (2019) Exploring politeness in business emails. Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Geertzen, J. , Alexopoulou, T. , & Korhonen, A.
    (2013) Automatic linguistic annotation of large scale L2 databases: The EF-Cambridge Open Language Database (EFCamDat). In R. T. Miller , K. I. Martin , C. M. Eddington , A. Henery , N. Marcos Miguel , A. M. Tseng , A. Tuninetti , & D. Walter (Eds.), Selected proceeding of the 2012 Second Language Research Forum: Building bridges between disciplines (pp.240–254). Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Gimenez, J. C.
    (2006) Embedded business emails: Meeting new demands in international business communication. English for Specific Purposes, 25 (2), 154–172. 10.1016/j.esp.2005.04.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2005.04.005 [Google Scholar]
  24. Grabowski, Ł.
    (2015) Phrase frames in English pharmaceutical discourse: a corpus-driven study of intra-disciplinary register variation. Research in Language, 13 (3), 266–291. 10.1515/rela‑2015‑0025
    https://doi.org/10.1515/rela-2015-0025 [Google Scholar]
  25. Granger, S.
    (2018) Formulaic sequences in learner corpora: Collocations and lexical bundles. In A. Siyanova-Chanturia , & A. Pellicer-Sánchez (Eds.), Understanding formulaic language: A second language acquisition perspective (pp.228–247). Routledge. 10.4324/9781315206615‑13
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315206615-13 [Google Scholar]
  26. Handford, M.
    (2010) The language of business meetings. Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139525329
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139525329 [Google Scholar]
  27. Huang, Y. , Murakami, A. , Alexopoulou, T. , & Korhonen, A.
    (2018) Dependency parsing of learner English. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 23 (1), 28–54. 10.1075/ijcl.16080.hua
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.16080.hua [Google Scholar]
  28. Hyland, K.
    (2008) As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for Specific Purposes, 27 (1), 4–21. 10.1016/j.esp.2007.06.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2007.06.001 [Google Scholar]
  29. (2018) The essential Hyland: Studies in applied linguistics. Bloomsbury.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Incelli, E.
    (2013) Managing discourse in intercultural business email interactions: A case study of a British and Italian business transaction. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 34 (6), 515–532. 10.1080/01434632.2013.807270
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2013.807270 [Google Scholar]
  31. Kankaanranta, A. , Karhunen, P. , & Louhiala-Salminen, L.
    (2018) “English As Corporate Language” in the multilingual reality of multinational companies. Multilingua, 37 (4), 331–351. 10.1515/multi‑2017‑0077
    https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2017-0077 [Google Scholar]
  32. Kankaanranta, A. , & Louhiala-Salminen, L.
    (2013) “What language does global business speak?” – The concept and development of BELF. Ibérica, 26 (1), 17–34.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Kankaanranta, A. , & Planken, B.
    (2010) BELF competence as business knowledge of internationally operating business professionals. Journal of Business Communication, 47 (4), 380–407. 10.1177/0021943610377301
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0021943610377301 [Google Scholar]
  34. Li, Z. , & Volkov, A.
    (2017) “To whom it may concern”: A study on the use of lexical bundles in email writing tasks in an English proficiency test. TESL Canada Journal, 34 (3), 54–75. 10.18806/tesl.v34i3.1273
    https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v34i3.1273 [Google Scholar]
  35. Millot, P.
    (2017) Inclusivity and exclusivity in English as a business lingua franca: The expression of a professional voice in email communication. English for Specific Purposes, 46 , 59–71. 10.1016/j.esp.2016.12.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2016.12.001 [Google Scholar]
  36. Pan, F. , Reppen, R. , & Biber, D.
    (2016) Comparing patterns of L1 versus L2 English academic professionals: Lexical bundles in telecommunications research journals. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 21 , 60–71. 10.1016/j.jeap.2015.11.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2015.11.003 [Google Scholar]
  37. Qian, D. D. , & Pan, M.
    (2019) Politeness in business communication: Investigating English modal sequences in Chinese learners’ letter writing. RELC Journal, 50 (1), 20–36. 10.1177/0033688217730142
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688217730142 [Google Scholar]
  38. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2020) R: A language and environment for statistical computing (Version 3.6.3) [Computer software]. R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Ren, C. , & Lu, X.
    (2021) A multi-dimensional analysis of the Management’s Discussion and Analysis narratives in Chinese and American corporate annual reports. English for Specific Purposes, 62 , 84–99. 10.1016/j.esp.2020.12.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2020.12.004 [Google Scholar]
  40. Römer, U.
    (2009) English in academia: Does nativeness matter?Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, 20 (2), 89–100.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Staples, S. , Egbert, J. , Biber, D. , & McClair, A.
    (2013) Formulaic sequences and EAP writing development: Lexical bundles in the TOEFL iBT writing section. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 12 (3), 214–225. 10.1016/j.jeap.2013.05.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2013.05.002 [Google Scholar]
  42. Taylor, S.
    (2005) Communication for business: A practical approach (4th ed.). Pearson Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Thomas, J.
    (1983) Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4 (2), 91–112. 10.1093/applin/4.2.91
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/4.2.91 [Google Scholar]
  44. Vergaro, C.
    (2004) Discourse strategies of Italian and English sales promotion letters. English for Specific Purposes, 23 (2), 181–207. 10.1016/S0889‑4906(03)00003‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0889-4906(03)00003-6 [Google Scholar]
  45. Warren, M.
    (2016) Signalling intertextuality in business emails. English for Specific Purposes, 42 , 26–37. 10.1016/j.esp.2015.11.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2015.11.001 [Google Scholar]
  46. Yates, J. A. , & Orlikowski, W.
    (2002) Genre systems: Structuring interaction through communicative norms. Journal of Business Communication, 39 (1), 13–35. 10.1177/002194360203900102
    https://doi.org/10.1177/002194360203900102 [Google Scholar]
  47. Zhu, W.
    (2012) Polite requestive strategies in emails: An investigation of pragmatic competence of Chinese EFL learners. RELC Journal, 43 (2), 217–238. 10.1177/0033688212449936
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688212449936 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): business emails; business English learners; lexical bundles; workplace discourse
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error