Faculty Publications

Title

Speaking politely, kindly, and beautifully: Ideologies of politeness in Japanese business etiquette training

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Business etiquette, Japanese, Language ideology, Politeness theory, Workplace communication

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Multilingua

Volume

32

Issue

2

First Page

225

Last Page

245

Abstract

In recent years, politeness theory has increasingly focused on speakers' own conceptualizations of polite behavior, viewing politeness concepts as a type of language ideology. This article examines the construction of Japanese politeness concepts in the business etiquette training provided for new employees in Japanese companies. Drawing on participant-observation of business etiquette seminars offered by five training companies, it analyzes how employees are taught to show deference through appropriate honorific use, to speak in ways which are seen as kind or considerate, and to speak and move in ways the instructors define as 'beautiful.' The analysis demonstrates how etiquette training conflates displays of deference, kindness, and demeanor, training new employees in an interactional presentation of self designed to promote a positive corporate image. The analysis of politeness as language ideology reveals how local constructions of politeness can serve larger strategic ends, in this case those of corporate image-making.

Original Publication Date

2-1-2013

DOI of published version

10.1515/multi-2013-0011

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