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Academic Paper


Title: An Ethnography of Intercultural Communication: Analyzing facework and politeness strategies within code-switching
Author: Yoichi Sato
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Meisei University
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Abstract: Japan, which used to be a relatively homogeneous country, has been becoming a nation of multiple ethnicities due to its acceptance of quite a few immigrants every year (Shoji, 2005). Among them, one of the largest ethnic groups which has immigrated to Japan was Chinese. According to Zhang (2008), these Chinese immigrants who determined Japan as their place of exodus for various reasons have made some social transformation, and thus they have gradually become a part of Japanese society. This fact indicates that Japan is becoming a nation of multiple ethnicities. Henceforth, it is not too much to say that intercultural communication even in domestic settings is becoming a necessity./L//L/One of the issues in intercultural communication is "conversational code-switching" (Gumperz, 1982), or alternative use of two or more languages, vernaculars, and even speech styles. So far, many studies have investigated the pragmatic function of code-switching (e.g. Auer, 1998; Milroy & Muysken, 1995; Oka, 1995; Tasaki, 2007). Moreover, Tarone (1977) suggested the necessity of employing code-switching as a compensation strategy for the lack of language proficiency, particularly in intercultural communication./L//L/However, the motivation of language choice is by and large related to sociolinguistic elements, not merely pragmatic ones (e.g. Gumperz, 1982; Auer, 1998; Alfonzetti, 1998; O'Driscoll, 2001). O'Driscoll (2001), in particular, investigated the notion of face in plurilingual situations, where multiple languages are simultaneously available; he classified three different levels of face manifestation in plurilingualism: 1) ethnolinguistic face; 2) cosmopolitan face; and 3) polite face. He also claimed that he postulated this as a face model of language choice, and further exploration of this issue would be needed by applying this concept to more localized contexts. So far, as far as I know, few studies have attempted to do so, particularly in Asian intercultural settings./L/Based upon his claim, this study attempts to investigate the sociolinguistic insight of code-switching by viewing it as a localized and contingent manifestation of language choice. I will focus on a specific intra-Asian intercultural communication between Japanese and Chinese which has emerged in Japan. The data used in this study is taken from the Ming-Xing Chinese club, an autonomous Chinese language learning society at Meisei University, located in a western part of Tokyo, by means of audio recording and field-note taking. In addition, I employed multiple data collection methods in order to capture the multidimensional aspects of intercultural communication (Bargiela-Chiappini et al., 2007). Lastly, as its research methodology, this research combined ethnography and ethnomethodology (e.g. Samra-Fredericks, 2004) and conceptually framed them within the realm of an interpretive qualitative approach (Davis, 1995) to thickly describe the complexity of intercultural communication.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Meisei University, Tokyo, Japan
Publication Info: Master Thesis


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