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Formal forms or verbal strategies? Politeness theory and Japanese business etiquette training
Journal of Pragmatics (2011)
  • Cynthia Dickel Dunn, University of Northern Iowa
This article analyzes the concepts of politeness that are manifest in Japanese business etiquette training in relation to the politeness theories of Brown and Levinson (1987) and Ide (1989, 2006). The analysis is based on participant-observation of five workforce development companies that specialize in providing seminars in “business manners” for new employees at a variety of Japanese companies. Intended for native speakers, these classes provide insight into the types of politeness that are considered particularly important for young Japanese to master as they enter the business world. Approaching both Volition and Discernment as language ideologies, the analysis examines the deployment of these ideologies in the Japanese business context. Although the manners training incorporates attention to both formal forms such as honorifics (Ide, 1989) and the types of verbal strategies described by Brown and Levinson (1987), both types of politeness are presented in the training in terms of “discernment,” or conformity to social norms, rather than as individually motivated strategic choices.
  • Politeness,
  • Honorifics,
  • Language socialization in the workplace,
  • Japanese
Publication Date
December, 2011
Citation Information
Cynthia Dickel Dunn. "Formal forms or verbal strategies? Politeness theory and Japanese business etiquette training" Journal of Pragmatics Vol. 43 Iss. 15 (2011) p. 3643 - 3654 ISSN: 0378-2166
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