Su(m)imasen and gomen nasai
Beyond apologetic functions in Japanese
Previous research on Japanese apologies has presented us with a somewhat static approach, connecting one linguistic form to one aspect of the social context. However, interaction itself is a dynamic and spontaneous process; consequently, apology expressions’ meanings are situated and negotiated in the place of interaction. Therefore, in this study, shifts from gomen to su(m)imasen and gomen nasai, and from su(m)imasen to gomen nasai, were analyzed in order to demonstrate that Japanese apologies function as indexical signs of emotional expression. To this end, data was collected from Japanese television dramas, where the ongoing development of the relationships protagonists were involved in was chronologically observed. Using as analytical concepts, (1) the social context of an interaction, (2) the selves participants impersonate, and (3) the speech styles the interactions occur in, to explain situated variation in the use of apology expressions, the current study revealed new meanings an apology carries in a situated context and also reinforced some of the previous research findings.
Keywords: Japanese apologies, Speech styles, Gomen nasai, Su(m)imasen, Indexicality, Emotivity, Self-presentation
Available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) 4.0 license.
Published online: 01 December 2013
(2010) Manipulating honorifics in the construction of social identities in Japanese television drama. Journal of Sociolinguistics 14: 456-476. BoP
Brown M., and J. Dean
Cohen, D.A., and N. Ishihara
(2005) A web-based approach to strategic learning of speech acts. Retrieved December 20, 2008, from http://www.carla.umn.edu
Cook, Haruko M.
(1992) Meanings of non-referential indexes: A case study of the Japanese sentence-final particle ne . Text: An interdisciplinary journal for the study of discourse 12: 507-539. BoP
(1997) The role of the Japanese masu form in caregiver-child conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 28: 695-718. BoP
(1981) ‘Poison to your soul’ thanks and apologies contrastively viewed. In F. Coulmas (ed.), Conversational routine: Explorations in standardized communication situations and prepatterned speech . The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 69-91. BoP
(2001) The anatomy of dependence (Rev. Ed.). Tokyo: Kodansha International.
Hatfield, Hunter, and Jee-Won Hahn
(2011) What Korean apologies require of politeness theory. Journal of Pragmatics 43: 1303-1317. BoP
(2000) The interaction of style-shift and particle use in Japanese dialogue. Journal of Pragmatics 32: 1823-1853. BoP
Jones, Kimberly, and Tsuyoshi Ono
(2008) Style shifting in Japanese. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. BoP
Jucker, H. Andreas
(2009) Speech act research between armchair, field and laboratory – The case of compliments. Journal of Pragmatics 41: 1611-1635. BoP
(2007) Involvement and the Japanese interactive particles ne and yo . Journal of Pragmatics 39: 363-388. BoP
(2010) Apology in Japanese gratitude situations: The negotiation of interlocutor role-relations. Journal of Pragmatics 42: 1060-1075. BoP
Maynard, Senko K.
(1991) Pragmatics of discourse modality: A case of da and desu/masu forms in Japanese. Journal of Pragmatics 15: 551–82. BoP
(1993) Discourse Modality: Subjectivity, Emotion and Voice in the Japanese Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. BoP
(2001b) Falling in love with style: Expressive functions of stylistic shifts in a Japanese television drama series. Functions of Language 8: 1–39. BoP
(2002) Linguistic Emotivity: Centrality of place, the topic–comment dynamic, and an ideology of pathos in Japanese discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. BoP
(1997) Social context, linguistic ideology, and indexical expressions in Japanese. Journal of Pragmatics 28: 795-817. BoP
(1999) Situated politeness: Manipulating honorific and non-honorific expressions in Japanese conversation. Pragmatics 9: 51-74. BoP
Ono, Yumiko, Xu Qingping, Mori Kiyotaka, and Mori Yuki
(2009a) Gomen nasai to sono barieshon no bunseki – hatsuwa koi riron no kanten kara. Proceedings of the Conference of the Pragmatics Society of Japan 4: 55-62.
(2009b) A Study of Japanese apologies and its pedagogical implications – A speech act theory approach. Paper presented at the 11th International Pragmatics Conference . Melbourne, Australia.
Shishido, Michiyasu, Masako Hiraga, Morio Nishikawa, and Tsutomu Sugawara
Sukle, Robert J.
Cited by other publications
Rieger, Caroline L.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 14 january 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.