Japanese and the Expression of Identity through Language, Politeness, and Tact




Horton, Chelsea Nicole

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There is a notion among many people, familiar and unfamiliar with Japanese, that it is an inherently polite language, as if it were built wholly around the concept of politeness. The Japanese language does have impressive capabilities in terms of denoting status, respect, and humbleness, offering many different linguistic levels on which people can interact. However, this is not for the sole or simple purpose of “politeness.” Instead, those capabilities permit a more complex interweaving of identities, social relationships, and physical contexts. As language both constructs and describes the complex social and environmental matrix in which speakers find themselves, it allows them a range of expression beyond mere politeness. This study undertakes an analysis of how Japanese is used for such purposes in a broad set of linguistics contexts, ranging from television shows, to the all-female Takarazuka theatre, and the public yet private space of cosplay cafés. In these settings, both the structure and flexibility of the Japanese language are illuminated.



Politeness, Cosplay, Japanese, Television, Takarazuka