“Sorry for the Long Message”: A Discoursive Approach to Analysing Japanese Apologies in Online Settings

Conference: The Asian Conference on Language (ACL2022)
Title: “Sorry for the Long Message”: A Discoursive Approach to Analysing Japanese Apologies in Online Settings
Stream: Language and Communication
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Eugenia Diegoli, University of Bologna, Italy


This paper investigates the use of the Japanese apologetic devices gomen ‘sorry’, su(m)imasen ‘(I’m) sorry’, mōshiwake arimasen ‘I apologise’ and shitsurei shimasu ‘excuse me’ in a corpus collected from the Q&A website Yahoo! Chiebukuro. I focus on standard situations where such expressions are conventionalised (ritual) relative to the minimal context of the utterance (Terkourafi, 2012), as opposed to apologies closer to strategic politeness (Brown & Levinson, 1987). Though there is no clear-cut distinction between ritual apologies that simply meet interactants’ expectations and marked expressions strategically manipulated by individuals, I will consider an expression to be conventionalised to achieve a particular illocutionary goal if it is used frequently enough in that context. Their identification is thus frequency-based: the more frequent expressions are (as observed within their surrounding co-text), the more conventionalised they are taken to be. Yahoo! Chiebukuro was chosen as data source because it provides a cluster of standard situations with explicit norms of behaviour users are expected to follow and where interactions are often predetermined. For example, I see how the set chōbun ‘long message’ + apology, which occurred 176 times in a set of 2160 examples (8.1%), was used almost exclusively at the beginning or at the end of the message, often preceding a direct request as in chōbun ni narimasu. Mōshiwake arimasen ga, yorosiku onegai itashimasu ‘it is a long message. I apologise, but please treat me favourably’. In this context, the apology expression is used in a ritual standard situation to indicate awareness of normative behaviour.

Conference Comments & Feedback

Place a comment using your LinkedIn profile


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress

Share this Presentation