Cross-cultural perception of some Japanese politeness and impoliteness expressions*
Prosodic strategies may express polite or impolite speech acts. Five such strategies in Japanese are studied in a cross-cultural experiment. The attitudes are presented to subjects in different modalities: audio-only, video-only, audio-video and also described in Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) scripts. NSM scripts allow creating comparable translations of a given description, proposed in four languages: Japanese, American English, Brazilian Portuguese and French. Native subjects of these languages took a pair comparison test, as a way to measure the perceived proximity of presented stimuli. A multidimensional statistical analysis of the results allows a description of the main expressive dimensions perceived by subjects. The test shows the similarity of the perceptive patterns obtained via NSM scripts and visual and audio modalities. It also shows that subjects of different cultural origins shared about 60% of the global representation of these expressions, that 8% are unique to modalities, while 3% are unique to language background.