Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Modern Languages


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Second Advisor

Larisa Warhol

Third Advisor

Felice Coles

Relational Format



The perceptions and norms of speech acts vary depending on the actor’s culture and language (Blum-Kulka, House, & Kasper, 1989; Rinnert & Kobayashi, 1999). Politeness also has diverse benchmarks depending on culture and language, as noted by Ide et al. (1992) who argue that the concept of politeness is different in Japanese and English. When considering the fact that it is challenging to possess bicultural competence and equal proficiency in both languages (Baker, 2011), how one retains this competence becomes a noteworthy question. Thus, this study investigated whether bilinguals who move to a L2 dominant country retain their communicative competence of L1 politeness even after residing there for an extended period of time. This paper presents a case study of Japanese-English bilinguals who were born in Japan to Japanese parents and are currently living in an English speaking country. Through a written discourse completion task (DCT) and semi-structured interviews, their performance of refusal and acceptance to invitations, requests, and compliments, which should indicate characteristics of Japanese speech acts, was evaluated. The answers on the DCT were analyzed in terms of grammatical accuracy and politeness, rated by native monolingual speakers on a Likert scale from polite to impolite. The interview revealed their perception of lexical forms in Japanese and Japanese society, along with the formation of their own identities. Competence of Japanese speech acts of the three participants varied by contexts, and it was influenced by their daily language use, age of arrival, and length of stay outside Japan. Their self-perception also corresponded with their results of the DCT. In addition, Japanese monolingual speakers who took the DCT as a control group demonstrated unexpected Japanese speech acts, which may provide proof of speech act variability depending on the generation in which speakers were born.


Emphasis: Linguistics

Included in

Linguistics Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.