Shifting Speech Styles and Perspectives in Japanese Interview Discourse

By:
Dr. Fumiko Nazikian
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Previous studies on style switching and the use of da forms focused on (1) the ‘formality’ of speech events (formal vs. informal), (2) the speaker’s manipulation of his thoughts (foregrounded vs. backgrounded, Maynard 1993) or (3) the speaker’s ‘attitudinal distance’ to his interlocutor (distant vs. intimate, e.g., Ikuta 1983 & 1999).

Claiming that da forms represent two speech styles, ‘informal’ (IF) and ‘impersonal’ (IP) depending on the context, Cook (2002) characterizes IF and IP as focusing on the ‘indexical’ meaning and the ‘referential’ meaning of the information, respectively. More specifically, IF occurs in casual speech events with ‘affect keys’ such as interpersonal particles, ne or yo, signaling ‘closeness’ to his interlocutor. IP on the other hand is used without affect keys and occur in written texts such as newspaper articles, or in certain activities of institutional speech such as happyo no jikan ‘presentation’ classroom activity or TV interview discourse.

This study examines the discourse function of IP in institutional speech such as in TV interview discourse, where the choice of speech style depends not only on the host’s relationship with the guest but also on her relationship with the TV audience. In this study, I will explain the mechanism of and effects of the use of IP by considering two issues: ‘conversational dominance’ (Itakura: 2002) and the host’s viewpoint shifting (Fujii 2001; Miyazaki 1999). The data reveal that the role of the interview host can be compared to that of narrator in terms of the notion of viewpoint-shifting. By shifting her viewpoint to the guest’s, the host succeeds not only to bring the audience/viewer closer to the inner thoughts of the guest to, but also to assist the viewer to understand what is going on.


Keywords: Speech Style Shifting, Shifting Speaker's Perspective, Japanese da Plain Forms, Impersonal Speech Style
Stream: Language, Linguistics
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Shifting Speech Styles and Perspectives in Japanese Interview Discourse


Dr. Fumiko Nazikian

Director of Japanese Language Program, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
New York, NY, USA

Fumiko Nazikian is currently the director of Japanese language program at Columbia University, NY, where she teaches Japanese language and pedagogy. She has taught Japanese language in various institutions including Australian National University, University of Sydney and Princeton University. Her research interests center on the discourse analysis of interaction in institutional talks such as T.V. interview. She has written articles and given presentations on topics such as Japanese sentence final particles, speech-style shifting, Japanese conditionals, the linkage of culture and language teaching, etc.

Ref: H06P0571