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The Ins and Outs of Japanese : Perception of group dynamics in Japan

Wiklund, Simon LU (2015) JAPK11 20151
Japanese Studies
Abstract
In 1973, the psychologist Tajfel proposed the Social Identity Theory which claimed that human behaviour is affected by the social relation of the people involved in a given situation, as documented by Burke (2006). The culture and language of Japan seem to embody the aspects of this theory as social relation is portrayed frequently, if not constantly, through the use of language. Academics such as Shibatani (1990), Wetzel (1988) and Hasegawa (1998; 2005) have conducted research on how the presence of in- and out-groups affect the use of language in Japan. If a group is considered to be intimate or distant to the speaker, language that addresses that intimacy or distance is applied. This concept, known as Uchi and Soto, is widely considered... (More)
In 1973, the psychologist Tajfel proposed the Social Identity Theory which claimed that human behaviour is affected by the social relation of the people involved in a given situation, as documented by Burke (2006). The culture and language of Japan seem to embody the aspects of this theory as social relation is portrayed frequently, if not constantly, through the use of language. Academics such as Shibatani (1990), Wetzel (1988) and Hasegawa (1998; 2005) have conducted research on how the presence of in- and out-groups affect the use of language in Japan. If a group is considered to be intimate or distant to the speaker, language that addresses that intimacy or distance is applied. This concept, known as Uchi and Soto, is widely considered to be central to the Japanese language and encompasses numerous aspects of that language. However, due to the general nature of the concept, there is little acknowledgement of to what extent the Japanese population shares this notion of how groups are perceived, which is what this thesis aims to explore. Two core aspects of how group relations are expressed in Japanese will be focused on in this thesis: The levels of politeness and the verbs of giving and receiving. Using polite language towards a person indicates a social difference between speaker and addressee, making it highly likely that the two do not belong to the same obvious social group while using casual language between people indicates the opposite. Japanese shows a stark difference in language between the various levels of politeness that can be expressed. In the case of giving and receiving, the aspect of a fluid notion of self can lead to the speaker describing another person receiving a gift as if the speaker had received it as well. While these verbs have guidelines as to how one accurately describe one group giving to or receiving from another group, if one defines groups differently to the other, differences in language should also appear. As such, it’s in this thesis’ interest to investigate if group-relations in a given social situation are perceived similarly in Japan which will be done through reviewing previous research regarding Uchi and Soto as well as own studies. (Less)
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author
Wiklund, Simon LU
supervisor
organization
course
JAPK11 20151
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
groups, politeness, giving, receiving, Uchi, Soto, sociolinguistics, Japanese
language
English
id
5470957
date added to LUP
2015-06-23 10:54:10
date last changed
2015-06-23 10:54:10
@misc{5470957,
  abstract     = {In 1973, the psychologist Tajfel proposed the Social Identity Theory which claimed that human behaviour is affected by the social relation of the people involved in a given situation, as documented by Burke (2006). The culture and language of Japan seem to embody the aspects of this theory as social relation is portrayed frequently, if not constantly, through the use of language. Academics such as Shibatani (1990), Wetzel (1988) and Hasegawa (1998; 2005) have conducted research on how the presence of in- and out-groups affect the use of language in Japan. If a group is considered to be intimate or distant to the speaker, language that addresses that intimacy or distance is applied. This concept, known as Uchi and Soto, is widely considered to be central to the Japanese language and encompasses numerous aspects of that language. However, due to the general nature of the concept, there is little acknowledgement of to what extent the Japanese population shares this notion of how groups are perceived, which is what this thesis aims to explore. Two core aspects of how group relations are expressed in Japanese will be focused on in this thesis: The levels of politeness and the verbs of giving and receiving. Using polite language towards a person indicates a social difference between speaker and addressee, making it highly likely that the two do not belong to the same obvious social group while using casual language between people indicates the opposite. Japanese shows a stark difference in language between the various levels of politeness that can be expressed. In the case of giving and receiving, the aspect of a fluid notion of self can lead to the speaker describing another person receiving a gift as if the speaker had received it as well. While these verbs have guidelines as to how one accurately describe one group giving to or receiving from another group, if one defines groups differently to the other, differences in language should also appear. As such, it’s in this thesis’ interest to investigate if group-relations in a given social situation are perceived similarly in Japan which will be done through reviewing previous research regarding Uchi and Soto as well as own studies.},
  author       = {Wiklund, Simon},
  keyword      = {groups,politeness,giving,receiving,Uchi,Soto,sociolinguistics,Japanese},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Ins and Outs of Japanese : Perception of group dynamics in Japan},
  year         = {2015},
}