image of Saying “sorry” in online language
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This study conducts a pragmatic analysis of 192 apologies that were made by retailers in response to customer complaints posted on a leading Chinese online shopping website. Each collected apology is coded for the components of the apology and the strategies used to build rapport. The choice of the apology components and the exhibited rapport-building strategies are interpreted in the light of wider work in the field of politeness in Chinese. Results of this study extend the pragmatic analyses of public apologies by identifying the distinctive features of apologies occurring on Chinese online shopping websites, i.e., relatively infrequent use of the statement of responsibility and the greater use of offers of repair. Although the language on Chinese online shopping websites is often considered informal, the study found that a number of linguistic components are used by the online sellers as forms of politeness to repair the relationship with the complainers.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aijmer, Karin
    1996Conversational routines in English: Convention and Creativity. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Barnlund, Dean C., and Yoshioka, Miho
    1990 “Apologies: Japanese and American Styles.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations: –. 10.1016/0147‑1767(90)90005‑H
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0147-1767(90)90005-H [Google Scholar]
  3. Benoit, William L. and Drew, Shirley
    1997 “Appropriateness and Effectiveness of Image Repair Strategies.” Communication Reports(): –. 10.1080/08934219709367671
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08934219709367671 [Google Scholar]
  4. Blum-Kulka, Shoshana and Olshtain, Elite
    1984 “Requests and Apologies: A Cross-Cultural Study of Speech Act Realization Patterns (CCSARP).” Applied Linguistics: –. 10.1093/applin/5.3.196
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/5.3.196 [Google Scholar]
  5. Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, House, Juliane, & Kasper, Gabriele
    (eds) 1989Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies (Advances in Discourse Processes, XXXI). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Coombs, Timothy W., Frandsen, Finn, Holladay, Sherry J., & Johansen, Winni J.
    2010 “Why a Concern for Corporate Apologia and Crisis Communication?” Corporate Communications(): –. 10.1108/13563281011085466
    https://doi.org/10.1108/13563281011085466 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cohen, Jonathan. R.
    2002 Legislating Apology: The Pros and Cons. University of Cincinnati Law Review: –.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Chang, Yuh-Fang
    2010 “‘I no say you say is boring’: The Development of Pragmatic Competence in L2 Apology.” Language Sciences: –. 10.1016/j.langsci.2009.07.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2009.07.002 [Google Scholar]
  9. 2018 “The effect of an interlocutor’s social status on the use of apology strategies: A cross-sectional study.” Concentric: Studies in Linguistics, (): –.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Chang, Wei-Lin Melody, and Haugh, Michael
    2011 “Evaluation of Impoliteness of An Intercultural Apology.” Journal of Intercultural Pragmatics(): –.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Cheung, Ming
    2010 “The globalization and localization of persuasive marketing communication: A cross-linguistic socio-cultural analysis.” Journal of Pragmatics(): –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2009.06.012
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.06.012 [Google Scholar]
  12. Ferrin, Donald L., Kim, Peter. H., Cooper, Cecily D., and Dirks, Kurt T.
    2007 “Silence Speaks Volumes: The Effectiveness of Reticence in Comparison to Apology and Denial for Responding to Integrity- and Competence-based Trust Violations.” The Journal of Applied Psychology(): –. 10.1037/0021‑9010.92.4.893
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.4.893 [Google Scholar]
  13. Flores Salgado, Elizabeth
    2011The Pragmatics of Requests and Apologies: Developmental Patterns of Mexican Students. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.212
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.212 [Google Scholar]
  14. Gelbrich, Katja
    2009 “Beyond Just Being Dissatisfied: How Angry and Helpless Customers React to Failures When Using Self-service Technologies.” Schmalenbach Business Review: –. 10.1007/BF03396779
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03396779 [Google Scholar]
  15. Grégoire, Yany, Tripp, Thomas M., and Legoux, Renaud
    2009 “When Customer Love Turns into Lasting Hate: The Effects of Relationship Strength and Time on Customer Revenge and Avoidance.” Journal of Marketing(): –. 10.1509/jmkg.73.6.18
    https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.73.6.18 [Google Scholar]
  16. Li, Dahui, Li, Jun, and Lin, Zhangxi
    2008 “Online Consumer-to-Consumer Market in China: A Comparative Study of Taobao and eBay.” Electronic Commerce Research and Applications(): –. 10.1016/j.elerap.2007.02.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.elerap.2007.02.010 [Google Scholar]
  17. Lutzky, Ursula and Kehoe, Andrew
    2017 “’Oops, I didn’t mean to be so flippant.’ A Corpus Pragmatic Analysis of Apologies in Blog Data.” Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2016.12.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2016.12.007 [Google Scholar]
  18. Lutzky, Ursula
    2021The Discourse of Customer Service Tweets: Planes, Trains and Automated Text Analysis. London/New York/Dublin: Bloomsbury Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Kádár, Dániel Z., Ning, Puyu and Ran, Yongping
    2018 “Public Ritual Apology: A Case Study of Chinese.” Discourse, Context & Media: –. 10.1016/j.dcm.2018.01.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2018.01.003 [Google Scholar]
  20. Kauffman, James
    2012 “Hooray for Hollywood? The 2011 Golden Globes and Ricky Gervais’ image repair strategies.” Public Relations Review, –. 10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.09.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.09.003 [Google Scholar]
  21. Kampf, Zohar and Löwenheim, Nava
    2012 “Rituals of Apology in the Global Arena.” Security Dialogue(): –. 10.1177/0967010611431095
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0967010611431095 [Google Scholar]
  22. Kuo, Ying-Feng and Wu, Chi-Ming
    2011 “Satisfaction and Post-purchase Intentions with Service Recovery of Online Shopping Websites: Perspectives on Perceived Justice and Emotions.” International Journal of Information Management(): –. 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2011.09.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2011.09.001 [Google Scholar]
  23. Márquez Reiter, Rosina
    2008 “Intra-cultural Variation: Explanations in Service Calls to Two Montevidean Service Providers.” Journal of Politeness Research: –. 10.1515/PR.2008.001
    https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2008.001 [Google Scholar]
  24. Miller, Kent D., Fabian, Frances, and Lin, Shu-JouLin
    2009 “Strategies for Online Communities.” Strategic Management Journal(): –. 10.1002/smj.735
    https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.735 [Google Scholar]
  25. Page, Ruth
    2014 “Saying ‘sorry’: Corporate Apologies Posted on Twitter.” Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/j.pragma.2013.12.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.12.003 [Google Scholar]
  26. Pan, Yuling and Kádár, Dániel Z.
    2011Politeness in Historical and Contemporary Chinese. London and New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Park, Jaram, Kim, Hoh, Cha, Meeyoung, and Jeong, Jaeseung
    2011 Ceo’s Apology in Twitter: A Case Study of the Fake Beef Labeling Incident by E-mart.” Social Informatics: Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6984: –. 10.1007/978‑3‑642‑24704‑0_34
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-24704-0_34 [Google Scholar]
  28. Olshtain, Elite and Cohen, Andrew. D.
    1983 “Apology: A Speech Act Set.” InSociolinguistics and Language Acquisition, ed. byNessa Wolfson and Elliot Judd, –. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Robinson, Jeffrey D.
    2004 “The Sequential Organization of “Explicit” Apologies in Naturally Occurring English.” Research on Language and Social Interaction(): –. 10.1207/s15327973rlsi3703_2
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi3703_2 [Google Scholar]
  30. Rose, Kenneth R.
    2000 “An Exploratory Cross-sectional Study of Interlanguage Pragmatic Development.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition: –. 10.1017/S0272263100001029
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100001029 [Google Scholar]
  31. Song, Ji Hee, and Zinkhan, George M.
    2008 “Determinants of Perceived Web Site Interactivity.” Journal of Marketing(): –. 10.1509/jmkg.72.2.99
    https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.72.2.99 [Google Scholar]
  32. Su, Yunwen and Chang, Yufen
    2019 Intra-lingual Pragmatic Variation in Mandarin Chinese Apologies: Influence of Region and Gender.” East Asian Pragmatics(): –. 10.1558/eap.38215
    https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.38215 [Google Scholar]
  33. Srivastava, Joydeep, and Chakravarti, Dipankar
    2009 “Channel Negotiations with Information Asymmetries: Contingent Influences of Communication and Trustworthiness Reputations.” Journal of Marketing Research(): –. 10.1509/jmkr.46.4.557
    https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.46.4.557 [Google Scholar]
  34. Tsai, Po-Chen
    2002 A Study of the Speech Act of Apology in Chinese. Unpublished MA thesis, Tsing Hua University.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Trosberg, Anna
    1987 Apology Strategies in Native/Non-Natives. Journal of Pragmatics: –. 10.1016/0378‑2166(87)90193‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(87)90193-7 [Google Scholar]
  36. Trosborg, Anna
    1995Interlanguage pragmatics: Requests, Complaints and Apologies. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110885286
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110885286 [Google Scholar]
  37. Wetzer, Inge M., Zeelenberg, Marcel and Pieters, Rik
    2007 “Never Eat in That Restaurant, I Did!: Exploring Why People Engage in Negative Word-of-Mouth Communication.” Psychology and Marketing (): –. 10.1002/mar.20178
    https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.20178 [Google Scholar]
  38. Wooten, David. B.
    2006 “Using apologies to overcome the bumps in the road to redemption.” InAn Executive Briefing on Crisis Leadership, ed. byJames H. Erika, and Smith, L., –. Charlottesville, VA: Darden Business Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Wu, Ruey-Jiuan Regina
    2004Stance in Talk: A Conversation Analysis of Mandarin Final Particles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.117
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.117 [Google Scholar]
  40. Wolfinbarger, Mary, and Gilly, Mary C.
    2003 “eTailQ: Dimensionalizing, Measuring and Predicting Etail Quality.” Journal of Retailing(): –. 10.1016/S0022‑4359(03)00034‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-4359(03)00034-4 [Google Scholar]
  41. Yang, Yundan and Huang, Siyao
    2015 “Study on the Language Strategies of Network Marketing to Women: Taking Taobao Style as an Example.” Asian Social Science(): –. 10.5539/ass.v11n7p43
    https://doi.org/10.5539/ass.v11n7p43 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: complaints ; rapport building ; online shopping websites ; face repair ; public apologies ; politeness
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