Departmental Bulletin Paper 日本語の「丁寧さ」とロシア語の「ウェジリボシチ」 : 類似点と相違点
Japanese Teineisa and Russian Vezhlivost' : the Similarities and Differences

ウェインベルグ, ナジェージダ  ,  松村, 瑞子

35pp.57 - 69 , 2015-11-24 , 九州大学大学院言語文化研究院
This paper introduces several specialties in understanding the concept "politeness" in Japanese (Teineisa) and Russian (Vezhlivost') languages and makes an effort to observe the perception of Russian polite behavior from Japanese point of view. Polite expressions (honorifics) in Japanese language are as old as written texts of classic Japanese literature as, for example, Man'yoshu (8 century). In Russian language the word "politeness" has been tightly connected to the concept "knowledge" from the 10th century; so a person was called "polite" if he/ she was considered to have deep knowledge in many fields. The meaning "to know how to behave in society" has added to Russian politeness concept in the 16th century. It is important to mention, that in 18-19 centuries in Russian language, as in Japanese, there existed special honorific expressions, but due to social changes after the revolution in 1917, when social classes were abolished and people started to be considered equal, those expressions gradually disappeared from everyday usage and aren't used nowadays, though still exist in vocabulary. In 18-19 centuries they were used in formal situations and for emphasizing social difference between interlocutors. In this relation, Russian honorific expressions were quite close to Japanese honorifics (keigo): Russian polite expressions could be also divided in 3 groups like Japanese teineigo (formal and polite way of speaking in general), sonkeigo (used to make the person who is being spoken to in a higher position) and kenjogo (used to make the speaker in a lower position than the listener). The hearer was praised while the speaker used very modest, derogatory expressions about himself. It is clear that nowadays Japanese and Russian verbal politeness have some common features, especially when making greetings and polite requests. A lot of similar phrases exist in both languages for asking and greeting, though Russian polite requests often emphasize the kindness of the interlocutor (e.g. "Please be so kind …"). Differences in polite strategies can be clearly seen when comparing Japanese and Russian ways of making polite invitations (Russian polite invitations tend to put pressure on the hearer, while in Japanese language it is considered more polite to leave the hearer the freedom of choice – to accept the invitation or not). The difference is also seen in ways of complimenting people. Japanese speakers usually make more compliments to the interlocutors rather than Russians, but both Russians and Japanese prefer the compliments to be said in connection to real efforts and achievements, therefore often negatively evaluate compliments which aren’t based on something real, as o-seji (flattery).

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