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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien



Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Tel: 03 – 3222 5198, Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


Registration Info

The lecture will be given in English. It will take place on Thursday, November 16th 2006 at 6.30 p.m. at the DIJ.
Admission is free, space is limited, so please register with Ms. Dinkel at the DIJ.

Politeness in Intercultural Communication

November 16, 2006 / 6.30 P.M.

Mayumi Usami, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

There is a Japanese saying comparable to the English proverb ‘A hedge
between keeps friendships green’. On the other hand, there are also
those who think that ‘For those who have close relationships, there is
no need for propriety or reserve’. Recent theories of politeness deal
with these kinds of feelings and attitudes in interpersonal
communication rather than with etiquette and manner, as commonly
associated by the word ‘politeness’. In this
respect, politeness theory provides many insights that may help
mitigate conflicts and frustration frequently observed in intercultural

In this talk I will first introduce the key concepts of Discourse
Politeness (DP) theory. By discussing first-hand examples from various
conversations I will then discuss how this theory can contribute to
finding ways to solve problems created by the transfer of politeness
strategies from one’s first to one’s second language in
cross-cultural interaction.

USAMI Mayumi is Professor of Social Psychology of Language and Teaching
of Japanese as a Second Language at Tokyo University of Foreign
Studies. She received her MA from Keio University, and an Ed.M and Ed.D
from Harvard University. Her research interests include Discourse
Politeness Theory, the social psychological approach to conversation
analysis, language and gender, pragmatics, and intercultural
communication. She has published many articles and books including Discourse Politeness in Japanese
Conversation: Some Implications for a Universal Theory of Politeness

(Hituzi Syobo, 2002), and Kotoba
wa shakai o kaerareru
[Language can change society]
(Akashi Shoten, 1997).