- 手話学研究 (ISSN:18843204)
- vol.22, pp.3-36, 2013 (Released:2014-12-21)
Although sign linguistics and pragmatics started almost at the same time in the early 1960's, few studies have been reported so far on pragmatics in sign languages. The present study aims at examining how politeness is realized in Japanese Sign Language (JSL). For this purpose, a videotaped discourse completion test (6 requests and 6 rejections) was conducted with the help of 8 native JSL signers.
As a result, the JSL signers used a variety of politeness strategies, including both positive and negative ones, proposed by Brown & Levinson (1978/1987). It is particularly noteworthy that off-record strategies, i.e., indirect language uses with implicature, were observed in 12 cases among 90. In addition, a nonmanual marker (NMM) "polite grimace" was observed 19 times both in requests and in rejections. It co-occurred with /ask/, /reject/, /it's OK/, /sorry/ and /borrow/. Using this NMM, the signers seemingly showed their feelings such as "I really hate to tell you this, but", "against my will, I have to say", etc. Hoza (2007) reports that "polite grimace" is also observed in ASL. However, the NMM "polite grimace" in JSL is unique in that it is often combined with two-handed signs, which are derived from unmarked one-handed signs and show deference, and/or bowing, i.e., a traditional etiquette in Japan.
Thus, the present study clarifies that the politeness theory is applicable to JSL too. From another viewpoint, it indicates the richness of JSL as a language.