Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2015
ISBN 978-967-13140-3-6

An ESP Genre Analysis of Business Scam Emails

Chitchanok Naksawat, Songyut Akkakoson

King Monkut's University of Technology, Thailand


Genre analysis has long provided pedagogical implications for ESP classrooms concerning internal structures and language features. The analysis mainly involves examining in detail such written documents as research articles, medical records, law documents, or even business correspondence. Hence, the major purpose of this study is to seek out communicative purposes and textual regularities of a genre. Taking the studies of Swales (1990, 2004) as a necessary criterion for defining the genre, the researcher selected 50 Nigerian 419 scam emails to analyze their internal structure (moves-steps) in order to find out whether stages of each text entail a common order and content which conveys particular intention of luring the recipient. Moreover, some significant language aspects relevant to persuasion strategies employed to gain the victims' confidence were also investigated. Such communicative purposes as providing an opening salutation, opening an email, introducing a purpose, phishing, requesting further action, ending an email, providing a complementary close and providing a signature block are found. Furthermore, unethical techniques like appealing to pity, trust, avarice/exploiting basic human desires and needs, making the scam look urgent and setting deadlines, asking victims to comply in several steps, and appealing to politeness and genuine are hidden in each scam email and used as a tool for conveying mischievous intentions to recipients. Understanding a specific structure for this type of text offers rich pedagogical and occupational possibilities for a study of persuasion, which helps pre- experienced and experienced business students to develop their awareness and critical faculties for evaluation of electronic information.


Nigerian 419 letter, Scam Email, Moves, Steps, Genre Analysis

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