Analysing Public Apology (Marital Transgression) - A Genre-Analysis Approach
Sai, Boon Chuan
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Despite the proliferation of studies concerning the subject of public apology particularly effectiveness of apology strategies (Blumstein et al., 1974; Riordan et al., 1983; Snyder & Higgins, 1986), few have taken into account the interaction of other elements that string together to form that particular genre. This study describes the sub-genre of public apology (marital transgression) based on 7 accounts of public apologies and their respective public reception by applying Swales' (1980) framework of Genre Analysis - Structural analysis. Each moves (structure) is distinguished by their communicative purpose(s) and moves comprising the sub-genre of public apology of marital transgression should observe or contribute to the central communicative purpose(s) of the sub-genre, that is of public apology of marital transgression. Move(s) that contradicts the communicative purpose(s) of a genre would result in transformation of that particular genre into another genre or sub-genre. A list of move structures characterising the sub-genre is derived from the data analysed. Public reception, acquired from electronic source (forum, comments etc) is used to measure the effectiveness of the data. The results show that the effectiveness of a public apology (marital transgression) is generally measured by the account on the whole, with particular move structures preferred to others. 'Recognising wrongdoing', 'claiming responsibility', 'expressing regret', 'offering account' and 'proffering restitution' are moves that are often used to assess the effectiveness of a public apology of marital transgression. Information provided is assessed in terms of adequacy, relevance, and truthfulness. Findings have also shown that the excuse type of account is preferred to justification, measured by their frequency of usage in the data. The higher the frequency of the various move structures in a public statement or speech as described under the sub-genre of public apology (marital transgression), the higher its acceptability by audience. Other variables used by audience to assess public apologies of this type include timing, nature for the affair, and accountability to secondary identity (social or institutional). A public apology of marital transgression should observe the move structure and external variables proposed to befit its contextual factors in order to reinforce its audience reception and thus, avoid a worst-case reading of the event.