Evaluation of (im)politeness: A comparative study among Japanese students, Japanese parents and American students on evaluation of attentiveness

Saeko Fukushima

Abstract

This study explores the evaluation of (im)politeness, which is made by a hearer (or a beneficiary). Although discursive researchers advocate the importance of the evaluation of (im)politeness made by a hearer in politeness research, empirical studies on the evaluation of (im)politeness are still limited. The non-linguistic aspect has not been much researched in previous politeness studies. This study tries to fill these gaps in politeness research, by focusing on evaluation of (im)politeness from the non-linguistic perspective. Among many other things, the evaluation of attentiveness (demonstrator’s preemptive response to a beneficiary’s verbal/non-verbal cues or situations surrounding a beneficiary and a demonstrator, which takes the form of offering) is focused on in this study, making cross-cultural (Japanese and American) and cross-generational (university students and their parents’ age groups) comparisons. The data were collected through a questionnaire, which consisted of six situations, and interviews. 298 people (Japanese university students, Japanese parents and American university students) served as the participants. The results of the questionnaire data show that there were significant differences among the participants in the evaluation of attentiveness in two situations, those of the interview data revealing that most participants evaluated attentiveness positively, except in two situations. This study contributes to further understanding of (im)politeness from the perspective of attentiveness with cross-cultural and cross-generational differences as well as similarities.

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