Chapter published in:Pragmatics of Japanese: Perspectives on grammar, interaction and culture
Edited by Mutsuko Endo Hudson, Yoshiko Matsumoto and Junko Mori
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 285] 2018
► pp. 125–148
Superiors’ directives in the Japanese workplace
Are they all strategic?
One of the criticisms against Brown and Levinson’s universal theory of politeness (1987) is the assertion that discernment politeness is more important than volitional politeness in Japanese society (e.g., Ide 1989; Hill et al. 1986). Contrary to this claim, studies that have analyzed actual discourse in the Japanese workplace report abundant volitional politeness strategies. These opposing views raise a question as to where and to what extent Japanese speakers use volitional strategies or observe discernment in the workplace. To answer this question, this chapter investigates superiors’ directives in new employee orientation sessions in a Japanese company. It finds a tendency among superiors to observe discernment when issuing procedural directives and to use negative and positive politeness strategies when issuing non-procedural directives.
Keywords: directives, politeness, politeness strategies, discernment politeness, volitional politeness, workplace discourse, Japanese, pragmatics
Published online: 16 April 2018
Brown, Penelope, and Stephen Levinson
Byron, Andrew S.
Cook, Haruko M.
Dunn, Cynthia D.
Goodwin, Marjorie H.
Hill, Beverly, Sachiko Ide, Shoko Ikuta, Akiko Kawasaki, and Tsunao Ogino
Kádár, Dániel and Mills, Sara
Mao, LuMing R.
Smith, Janet S.