8. The language life of Machino – The social psychology
of honorifics –
0. Introductory notes by the editorsThis work is the first serious and pragmatic attempt at a sociolinguistic study
of honorifics. The fieldwork was carried out in 1952 on the tip of the Noto
peninsula on the northern coast of central Honshu Island.The method used here of recording actual discourse still seems fresh even
today. We should remember that this work was done just after the War, at a
time when tape-recorders (which had just become available) were not easily
transported. Even tapes were costly. The methodology employed here for
selecting informants (speakers) was a systematic one, as is customary today
in social psychology.This area was surveyed again 20 years later, and sociolinguistic principles
for the usage of honorific forms were investigated by questioning all the
inhabitants on their usage of certain expressions as chapter 9 shows. Still
more recent studies have shown these sociolinguistic principles to have
changed: from household status (power) to familiarity (solidarity). Similar
changes are said to have occurred in Europe. This may be a reflection of
universal tendencies in honorifics.The importance of this paper lies in the methodology — one very
innovative in this early period of sociolinguistics — in which the actual usage
of linguistic forms was recorded and tabulated.
1. IntroductionIn this paper, the author attempts to shed some light on the subject of honorifics
from a “language life” approach, using the town of Machino (specifically, the
Tanagai area of the Kawanishi district) in Fugeshi County, Ishikawa Prefecture.
We will focus on the following problems:
|1. ||Some kinship terms have an honorific usage and others do not. (This will
be called “honorific differentiation”). We want to know whether this
differentiation is governed more by modern social strata (hereafter called “social
stratification”) or by the traditional standing of a household (called “household
|2. ||In cases of one-on-one discourse (conversation), we wish to determine
which of the following factors — sex, age, household standing, degree of
familiarity — plays the greatest role in governing honorific behavior.|
The hamlet of Tanagai is a small farming community on the Noto peninsula
which (at the time of the survey in 1952) had 27 households, with a population of
96 (excluding those under 15 years old). We had planned to survey all 96
residents of the area, but in the end we were only able to obtain data from 82
people (26 households). The dialect is one representative of the Inner Noto
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Sociolinguistics in Japanese Contexts.
Contributors: Tetsuya Kunihiro - Editor, Fumio Inoue - Editor, Daniel Long - Editor.
Publisher: Mouton de Gruyter.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1999.
Page number: 143.
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