The role of English as a scientific metalanguage for research in pragmatics

Reflections on the metapragmatics of ‘politeness’ in Japanese

Authors

  • Michael Haugh Griffith University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.v1i1.27610

Keywords:

metapragmatics, metalanguage, concepts, practices, Japanese, politeness

Abstract

Much of the theorisation undertaken in pragmatics has afforded English a privileged place, not only as the object of analysis but also as the means through which such theoretical discussions have been accomplished. Yet as a number of researchers have pointed out, the language in which the description, analysis, and theorisation of pragmatic phenomena is undertaken can have an influence on how the research object(s) in question are understood. In this article, the role of English as our scientific metalanguage in research on ‘politeness’ in Japanese is considered. It is argued that in order to start managing such challenges for research in pragmatics we need to go beyond the study of abstract or decontextualised meanings of words and move towards the analysis of emic concepts and emic practices. It is concluded that rather than abandoning notions such as ‘politeness’ in favour of seemingly less culturally imbued terms, what is needed instead is greater awareness of what the use of English as a scientific metalanguage both affords for researchers working in pragmatics, along with the challenges it can create for such work.

Author Biography

Michael Haugh, Griffith University

Michael Haugh is Professor and Head of the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Queensland, following a recent move from Griffith University. He has published widely in journals and edited volumes, and recent books include Im/Politeness Implicatures (2015, Mouton de Gruyter), Pragmatics and the English Language (2014, Palgrave Macmillan, with Jonathan Culpeper), and Understanding Politeness (2013, Cambridge University Press, with Dániel Z. Kádar). He has also co-edited a number of books, and is also co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Pragmatics (Elsevier).

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Published

2016-04-13

How to Cite

Haugh, M. (2016). The role of English as a scientific metalanguage for research in pragmatics: Reflections on the metapragmatics of ‘politeness’ in Japanese. East Asian Pragmatics, 1(1), 39–71. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.v1i1.27610

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