Philanthropic Discourse vs Promotional Genre: To Study the Rhetorical Choices of Promotion and Structural Moves of Two Appeal Letters in Hong Kong

Patrick Chi-wai LEE


Based on two appeal letters from (i) Oxfam Hong Kong and (ii) Hong Kong Committee For United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), this paper aims to study the rhetorical choices of promotion and structural moves of two appeal letters, exploring whether the philanthropic discourse can be viewed in line with the promotional genre. The findings appear to reveal that there is a hybrid form of promotional genre in philanthropic discourse, with reference to Bhatia’s (1998) generic patterns in fund-raising discourse framework. There are similar structural moves of advertising, although the move sequences could vary. However, the move of “introducing the cause” is always found at the very beginning because the readers are more interested to realise what the main theme of the appeal letter is. In addition, appeal letters are found to be modelled in promotional genre, in which they are rhetorical choices of promotion attracting attention from readers – by using “you” and marked devices of attention getters. The findings in this study appear to be in line with the argument that promotional concerns have influenced the nature of philanthropic discourse.



Appeal letters, Hong Kong, promotional genre, rhetorical choices of promotion

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