Languages & Cultures of East Asia

Trad 101, Sections 18-19-20-21   Fall 2000

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Lecture Outline, 10/4/00 - Speech Acts

Use of language to achieve a certain purpose

In the U.S., invitation is usually pretty straightforward:

     A: Do you want to come over for dinner tonight? (A really means it)
     B: I can't. I have to work on my paper. (B probably means it)
     A: Come on! It's only an hour!
          (or You have to eat anyway!) (A keeps trying)

Chinese/Japanese invitation - may sound pretty strange

But here

     Let's do lunch.
     Good by now. Come back any time.
     If there is anything you need, just let me know.

Different cultures do things in different ways

5 situations from the reading

     1. Apology
          want to show you care/are concerned

     2. Denying a compliment
          want to show modesty (Self-denigration Maxim)

          A: 'Nice shoes!'
          B: 'Really, I bought them on sale'
          or: 'Oh, they are old'

          A: 'This is delicious!'
          B: 'I just mixed seaweed and dressing'

     3. Noisy Neighbor
          you don't confront people
          (the Piano Practice example in Reading #22)

          polite Japanese?

               depends on the situation

               it's ok not to be polite within your in-group like family
               and friends (uchi)

                    no need to say thanks within family

               polite to foreigners (soto)

          uchi vs. soto - not fixed

               talking to colleagues, your boss is soto

               talking to customers, your boss is uchi

     4. Self-defense
          you don't talk back to your superior especially if you are in a
          low status like a part-time worker

          you don't blame your boss (superior) or your colleague

          what's most important for the boss?
          It doesn't matter who is responsible.

          if you apologize it would show
               a. you understand what's important
               b. your know you don't talk back to your superior

     5. Undecided
          don't say no overtly


          want to show you care
          want to show modesty
          don't confront people
          don't talk back to you superior
          don't say no overtly

Stereotyping? of course different people behave differently

     closeness of relationship (uchi vs. soto)

so I asked Japanese people who have worked in Japan

Apology B 5
Denying a compliment D 5
Noisy neighbor A 5
Self-defense A 3 B 2
Undecided D 5