Did Becky really need to apologise? Intercultural evaluations of politeness

Authors

  • Emi Okano Emory University
  • Lucien Brown Monash University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.35178

Keywords:

politeness, public apology, national identity, computer-mediated communication, gender

Abstract

This study analyses a public apology made in 2016 by Becky, an Anglo-Japanese tarento ‘celebrity’, for her romantic involvement with a married man, musician Enon Kawatani. Adopting an integrative pragmatics perspective, we analyse the pragmatic acts Becky used to perform her apology, including culture-specific nonverbal behaviours indexing deference. We then look at how the apology was dynamically evaluated in naturally occurring discourse in Japanese and British computer-mediated communication (CMC). The analysis shows that culture-specific moral orders rendered Becky’s apology necessary in the Japanese context, but that these norms were not shared by the British audience. The Japanese and British CMC participants utilised national identity as resources for negotiating their contrasting moral orders. We show how CMC participants assign significance to the (im)politeness-related behaviour to which they were exposed and how they performed (im)politeness through threatening national identities.

Author Biographies

Emi Okano, Emory University

Emi Okano is a Japanese language instructor at Emory College. She received her M.A. from University of Oregon. She did her M.A. project on multiliteracies as a pedagogy by developing, implementing, and evaluating a multliteracies lesson within the theme of gender. Her research interest extends to Japanese language pedagogy as well as sociocultural/sociopragmatic aspects of Japanese language.

Lucien Brown, Monash University

Lucien Brown is Senior Lecturer of Korean Studies at Monash University. His research focusses on multimodal politeness in first and second language contexts. His book Korean Honorifics and Politeness in Second Language Learning is published by John Benjamins and his articles appear in journals such as Journal of PragmaticsJournal of Politeness Research, and Language, Culture and Curriculum.

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Published

2018-08-31

How to Cite

Okano, E., & Brown, L. (2018). Did Becky really need to apologise? Intercultural evaluations of politeness. East Asian Pragmatics, 3(2), 151-178. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.35178

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Section

Articles