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Pizziconi, Barbara (2003) 'Re-examining politeness, face and the Japanese language,.' Journal of Pragmatics, 35. pp. 1471-1506.

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Japanese scholarship on Linguistic Politeness has contributed to a polarised view of politeness systems, whereby some languages are considered to conform to a strongly agentivistic paradigm while others conform predominantly to the pressure of external social norms. Japanese has been presented as a typical example of the latter, which invalidates Brown and Levinson’s claims of the universality of politeness strategies. This paper re-examines the evi- dence presented to support this position and reassesses the Japanese scholars’ contribution to the critique of the then predominant model of politeness. It argues that the principles reg- ulating the use of honorific devices in Japanese are not substantially different from those of English, both being similarly strategic. On the other hand, it highlights crucial implications of the Japanese scholars’ work which were not explored exhaustively: the critique of the perva- siveness of negative strategies, the universal importance of considerations of appropriateness and the key role of positive strategies. The paper concludes that politeness (as ‘appropriateness’) is better observed, even in Japanese, in the polite stances constituted by strategic use of polite devices rather than in unmediated polite meanings conveyed by the plethora of dedicated honorifics.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Japanese politeness, face, honorifics, Brown and Levinson critique, verbal strategies
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea
ISSN: 03782166
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 15:54

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