Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11494
The purpose of this essay is to describe existing linguistic theories that attempt to explain Japanese linguistic etiquette; In particular the well-known politeness theory as described by Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, the supposed universality of that theory and how it fails to adequately describe Japanese politeness. In addition to evaluating the theories and explaining where they fall short in their description, research will be presented to explain exactly what is missing from the respective theories. In addition to this it an explanation will be presented which borrows many themes from various different theories and uses them to provide a clearer and more accurate picture of Japanese politeness. While older and established theories certainly can explain various aspects of Japanese politeness none of them fully explain why it is used. A newer, more applicable theory will be presented that is better supported by research and gives a more reasonable explanation for Japanese politeness. This theory views Japanese honorifics and politeness as constructions of the interlocutors to enhance the flow of information and increase their chance of achieving their conversational goal. The historical and socioeconomic background of Japan will be discussed and the various factors which affect the way that the Japanese think and speak will be explained. This will not only give a good basis as to contrast the various theories but give a good perspective into the Japanese language and mind and allow the reader to evaluate existing theories and come to a conclusion.
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