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Dr Victor Ho
PolyU Scholars Hub

Dr Victor Ho

Associate Professor

Research Overview

Pragmatics in professional communication
I am interested in the way pragmatics manifests itself in professional workplace email communication, and the way it allows professionals to achieve their various communicative goals, corporate and/or private, through demonstrating politeness, managing rapport or constructing desirable personal identities.

I study “Gatekeeping” discourse – the accreditation reports and audit reports written by local and overseas oversight bodies – from a pragmatics perspective. As the reports will probably include negative evaluations, I am interested in the way the face wants of the institutions concerned are attended to.
I also study the review response genre – responses given by hotel management to negative online reviews for achieving service recovery. This research aims to identify the effective rapport management and persuasive strategies used in the responses. I draw upon the genre theory and metadiscourse construct for the analysis.

Second language writing
This research concerns the use of metadiscourse in argumentative essays by university students. It aims to identify, if any, the characteristic pattern of use of metadiscourse in higher-rated and lower-rated essays, and ultimately, to profile the development of students’ metadiscursive competence and writer-reader interactional competence at different key learning stages.

Education and Academic Qualifications

  • Teacher Certificate, Grantham College of Education
  • Bachelor of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Master of Arts in Language Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics, Macquarie University

Teaching Areas

  • Pragmatics
  • Academic writing
  • Research methods
  • Professional and organizational communication

Research Interests

  • Pragmatics
  • Metadiscourse
  • Discourse analysis
  • Professional communication
  • English for academic/specific purposes

Research Output

  1. Ho, V. (accepted). Metadiscourse and second language research. The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition and Discourse. Routledge.

  2. Ho, V. (2022). Research on (Mandarin) Chinese. In X. Chen (Ed.), East Asian Pragmatics: Commonalities and Variations, pp. 105-117. Taylor & Francis.

  3. Ho, V. (2022). Self-promoting: A double-edged sword. In C. Xie and Y. Tong (eds.), Self-Praise Across Cultures and Contexts, Advances in (Im)politeness Studies, pp. 41-59. Springer.

  4. Ho, V. (2021). “Together, we fight the virus”: an exploratory study of the use of metadiscourse in Hong Kong’s Chinese newspapers. East Asian Pragmatics 6(2): 161-183.

  5. Ho, V. (2021). Denial in managerial responses: forms, targets and discourse environment. Journal of Pragmatics 176: 124-136.

  6. Ho, V. (2020). Do hotels enhance and challenge rapport with customers with the same degree of commitment? Journal of Pragmatics 166: 70-83.

  7. Ho, V. (2020). Marketization attempts by universities in Hong Kong: An appraisal analysis of institutional responses to quality audit evaluations. Lingua 237 (102811).

  8. Ho, V. (2019). Book review: Staley, L. (2018). Socioeconomic Pragmatic Variation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Pragmatics and Society.

  9. Ho, V. (2019). Hotel management’s attempts at repairing customers’ trust: The use of apology and denial. Pragmatics and Society.

  10. Ho, V. (2018). Exploring the effectiveness of hotel management’s responses to negative online comments. Lingua 216: 47-63.

  11. Ho, V. (2018). Using metadiscourse in making persuasive attempts through workplace request emails. Journal of Pragmatics 134: 70-81.

  12. Ho, V., & Li, C. (2018). The use of metadiscourse and persuasion: an analysis of first year university students’ timed argumentative essays. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 33: 53-68.

  13. Ho, V. (2017). Guarding the gate politically and politely: how accreditation teams do facework while gatekeeping. Journal of Politeness Research: Language, Behavior, Culture 13(1): 33-60.

  14. Ho, V. (2017). Giving offence and making amends: How hotel management attempts to manage rapport with dissatisfied customers. Journal of Pragmatics 109: 1-11.

  15. Ho, V. (2017). Achieving service recovery through responding to negative online reviews. Discourse & Communication 11(1): 31-50.

  16. Ho, V., & Suen, A. (2017). Promoting a city’s core values using evaluative language. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 27(1): 286-308 (published online in Dec 2015).

  17. Ho, V. (2016). An exploratory study of the evaluative prosodies in academic quality audit reports. Functions of Language 23(3): 336-360.

  18. Ho, V. (2016). Discourse of persuasion: A preliminary study of the use of metadiscourse in policy documents. Text & Talk 36(1): 1-21.

  19. Ho, V. (2014). Evaluating while justifying intercultural requests. Intercultural Pragmatics 11(4): 575-602.

  20. Ho, V. (2014). Managing rapport through evaluation in grounder – a qualitative study. Journal of Pragmatics 61: 63-77.

  21. Ho, V. (2013). Strategic use of nouns and pronouns in public discourse: The case of the fine-tuning of the medium of instruction policy in Hong Kong. Pragmatics 23(1): 51-68.

  22. Ho, V. (2013). The need for identity construction in computer-mediated professional communication: A community of practice perspective. In R. Luppicini (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society. Hershey, USA: Idea Group Global.

  23. Ho, V. (2012). Exercising power while you are not intrinsically vested with any. In Q. Fry & C. O’Donnell (eds.), Psychology of Power, pp.121-136. NY, USA: NOVA Publishers.

  24. Ho, V. (2011). The shifting of health responsibility from government to people in Hong Kong. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice (formerly Journal of Applied Linguistics) 8(1): 49-70.

  25. Ho, V. (2011). What functions do intertextuality and interdiscursivity serve in request e-mail discourse? Journal of Pragmatics 43(3): 2253 – 2261.

  26. Ho, V. (2011). A discourse-based study of three communities of practice – how members maintain a harmonious relationship while threatening each other’s face via e-mail. Discourse Studies 13(3): 299 – 326.

  27. Ho, V. (2011). Rapport – how the weight it carries affects the way it is managed. Text & Talk 31(2): 153 – 172.

  28. Ho, V. (2011). Healthcare, whose care? Some discursive evidence for the shifting of responsibility from government to people in Hong Kong. In Conference Proceedings of the 1st Expanding Horizons in English Language and Literary Studies 2011, 18 – 20 October 2011, Bangkok: 172-181.

  29. Ho, V. (2011). Request E-Mail Discourse in the Workplace - A Multi-perspective Analysis. Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG.

  30. Ho, V. (2011). Basics of business writing. In T. Xia, V. Ho, W. Chen, & X. Chen (Eds.) English Writing for International Business – Skills, Cases and Texts, pp.9-19. Shanghai, China: Lixin Accounting Publishing House.

  31. Xia, T., Ho, V., Chen, W., & Chen, X. (Eds.). (2011). English Writing for International Business – Skills, Cases and Texts. Shanghai, China: Lixin Accounting Publishing House.

  32. Ho, V. (2010). Constructing identities through request e-mail discourse, Journal of Pragmatics 42(8): 2253 – 2261.

  33. Ho, V. (2010). Constructing identities in the workplace through request e-mail discourse – how does one benefit from it? GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies 10(2): 3 – 18.

  34. Ho, V. (2010). Grammatical metaphor in request e-mail discourse, HKBU Papers in Applied Language Studies 14: 1 – 24.

  1. Xia, T., Ho, V., Chen, W., & Chen, X. (Eds.). (2011). English Writing for International Business – Skills, Cases and Texts. Shanghai, China: Lixin Accounting Publishing House.



  • Dealing with criticisms: A genre-based approach to analyzing hotel management’s responses to negative online reviews (HK$580,025 for a 36-month project funded by GRF, 2018 to 2020 [project number: 15606617], with Mr. Jonathan Sutton as Co-Investigator)
  • How Hotel Management Achieves Service Recovery: An Appraisal Analysis (HK$105,000 for a 24-month project funded by Central Research Grant in 2016/17 [project number: G-YBMB])

  • A Multi-perspective Analysis of the Discourse of Organizational Responses posted on TripAdvisor (HK$100,000 for a 24-month project funded by Departmental Research Grant, Department of English in 2015/16 [project number: 1-ZVEP])

  • Upholding and Promoting the City's Core Values by the HKSAR Government through Discourse (HK$100,000 for a 24-month project funded by Departmental Research Grant, Department of English in 2013/14 [project number: G-UB79], with Dr. Amy Suen as Co-Investigator)

  • Discourse of Accreditation & Audit: Analyzing Assessors' Evaluations and Assessees' Responses (HK$300,000 for a 36-month project funded by Dean’s Reserve, Faculty of Humanities in 2013/14 [project number: 1-ZVBE])

Learning and teaching grants and projects as Principal Investigator
  • Teaching of writing: Enhancing persuasiveness with metadiscourse (HK$80,000 for 24-month project funded by Departmental Learning and Teaching Grant in 2014/15, with Dr. Cissy Li as Co-Investigator)

Esteem Measures


  • Discourse, Context & Media (Elsevier)
  • 2017/18, Faculty Award for Excellent Performance in Research and Scholarly Activities, Faculty of Humanities, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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