Politeness, the Japanese style : an investigation into the use of honorific forms and people's attitudes towards such use
The main purpose of the thesis is to explore the characteristics of politeness which are conveyed by the use of Japanese honorific forms (i.e honorific politeness). The perspective of the research is as follows: 1) the concept of politeness is regarded as being wider in scope than in major past studies of linguistic politeness in the West (e.g Leech 1983); 2) unlike many past studies of politeness related to Japanese honorific fonns, the research attempts to study the social effect of the use of an honorific form rather than the grammatical or semantic properties of such forms; 3) the analysis of honorific politeness is based on the findings about the mechanism by which honorific politeness mitigates discomfitlrre, and on the metalinguistic evaluations of honorific forms made by native speakers. Results from a questionnaire, which investigated the types of discomfiture which result from various kinds of inappropriate linguistic behaviom, suggested that the lise of an honorific form can mitigate two main types of discomfitme, which differ in degree of seriousness, depending on the social features of the situation in which the use occms. It is pointed out that the mitigation of either type of discomfiture should be regarded as flowing from a common type of linguistic choice, that is, compliance with a social nom1 goveming the appropriate use oflanguage in different kinds of communication situations, i.e. register rules. Furthermore, based on observations of the use of linguistic forms other than honorific ones, it is argued that honorific forms are one of many linguistic devices for realizing register differences, i.e. register markers. Results from the other questionnaire, which probed native speaker's evaluation of different types of language use for the communication of politeness, indicate that native speakers tend to place special aesthetic value on honorific forms and their use, independently of the seriousness of the discomfiture they can mitigate. Based on an analysis of the background to this tendency, it is argued that the value can be appropriately regarded as sharing many properties with the value which language users place on a certain part of register markers in a diglossic conmmunity. It is thus concluded that honorific politeness is a form of diglossia.