Obana and Haugh question the extent to which commonly accepted theories in pragmatics can readily explain sociopragmatic phenomena in Japanese. Studies of Japanese in pragmatics have often challenged the cross-linguistic relevance of dominant theories. However, they have also inadvertently perpetuated stereotypes about the Japanese. It is often been assumed, for instance, that Japanese people are less strategic, more polite and more reliant on tacit forms of communication than speakers of other languages. But the Japanese are not as polite as one might think. The aim of this book is thus to question those folk assumptions around politeness, impoliteness, irony and indirectness while at the same time emphasizing that close examination of sociopragmatic phenomena in Japanese yields important empirical insights that combat common theoretical assumptions in pragmatics. The content is structured in three parts, in which the authors highlight a key building block of a theory of sociopragmatics. Part I focuses on indexing through the lens of chapters on honorifics, routine formula and politeness strategies. Part II focuses on evaluating through the lens of chapters on giving/receiving expressions and honorific irony. Finally, Part III focuses on relating through the lens of chapters on joint utterances and off record requests. Throughout the chapters the authors draw attention to ways in which these three dimensions are invariably intertwined in various ways.

This book is not simply a collection of studies that promotes our understanding of the sociopragmatics of a particular language, but goes deeper and challenges what many have taken for granted in pragmatics. It proposes a framework for exploring sociopragmatic phenomena, building on the key sociopragmatic axes of indexing, evaluating and relating, and offers fresh new perspectives on time-honoured phenomena in pragmatics.

It will interest scholars and postgraduate students in pragmatics, particularly those specializing in: politeness, impoliteness, indirectness and irony. The book explains what Japanese terms mean, and all the Japanese examples are morphologically-glossed. Therefore, teachers (and advanced learners) of Japanese at all levels will benefit from the book as it will enrich their knowledge of the Japanese language.

chapter 1|10 pages


part I|86 pages


chapter 2|26 pages


chapter 3|32 pages

Routine formulae

chapter 4|24 pages

Politeness strategies

part II|46 pages


chapter 5|18 pages

Giving/Receiving expressions

chapter 6|24 pages

Honorific irony

part III|58 pages


chapter 7|22 pages

Joint utterances

chapter 8|19 pages

Off-record requests

chapter 9|13 pages

Concluding remarks