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East Asian Linguistics Workshop: "Graduate Student Talks & Data-Sharing Workshop"

Taiga Ikedo
Andrew Nelson
Ya-ting Tsai
Fri May 24th 2024, 4:30 - 6:10pm
Event Sponsor
East Asian Linguistics Workshop
Knight Building, Room 102 (521 Memorial Way)
East Asian Linguistics Workshop Graduate Student Talk Poster

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We would like to invite you to join us for the final East Asian Linguistics Workshop event of the 2023-24 academic year. We’ll be capping off this year’s workshop sessions with featuring the on-going research of three of our very own EALC students, Taiga Ikedo, Andrew Nelson, and Ya-ting Tsai (in order of presentation). The event will be held on Friday, May 24, 4:30-6:10PM (Pacific, USA) in the Knight Building Room 102. Dinner will be served to registrants after 6:10pm. Please join us to hear about and discuss the three exciting projects and to celebrate the conclusion of the 2023-2024 East Asian Linguistics Workshop series!

If you are interested in this event, please complete this Google Form, or email me at harumi56 [at] (harumi56[at]stanford[dot]edu), to sign up by 11:59pm (Pacific) on Wednesday, May 22.


Presentations & Presenters (in order of presentation):

"From Praise to Prejudice: Analyzing “Nihongo Jōzu” through YouTube Commentary"

By Taiga Ikedo, PhD student in Japanese Linguistics

There has been a discourse among Japanese speakers from diverse backgrounds regarding the compliments they often receive: “Nihongo jōzu” (your Japanese is good). Classic pragmatic theories, such as those by Searle (1975) and Brown & Levinson (1978, 1987), have categorized this as a direct compliment and a positive politeness strategy. However, this discourse often highlights frustration among recipients, resembling discussions around “Your English is good” in English-speaking countries, where such remarks are perceived as patronizing and othering. This negative evaluation aligns with the concept of impoliteness, where the abuse of power and perceived violation of interactional norms have been argued to contribute to impoliteness evaluations (Culpeper, 1996, 2011; Haugh, 2010). My research indicates that while it is frequently claimed that native speakers use “Nihongo jōzu” with good intentions, framing it as a Japanese norm of politeness, the actual interpretation—whether positive or negative—hinges crucially on the power dynamics among the interlocutors, particularly their relationship to the complimented object and their native languages. The data consists of a YouTube satirical clip and its viewer comments, focusing on comments that make negative and positive evaluations, drawing on dialogic and evaluative stance-taking (Du Bois, 2007). The sketch, acted out by a Japanese teacher and comedian—a white individual with ‘exceptional’ Japanese proficiency—creates an empowering space for some language learners and reinforces native-speakerism. Developments in politeness studies have highlighted a divergence between scholarly theorization, such as universal politeness theory and face (Goffman, 1967), and laypeople’s understanding of relevant phenomena in social interaction (Culpeper & Hardaker, 2017). This research adds nuances to (im)politeness studies by illustrating how differently perceived power influences the diverse evaluation and how individuals negotiate these evaluations beyond the traditionally used boundaries of L1 and L2 norms. 


Meiji Theories of Language, Viewed through Translation

By Andrew Nelson, PhD candidate in Japanese Linguistics

Intellectual histories of Meiji Japan (1868-1912) often describe an unfiltered importation of Western knowledge. Linguistics is no exception to this narrative. Frequently cited as evidence for the wholesale adoption of Western linguistics are the many translations of linguistic theories produced in short order. However, a full understanding of Meiji linguists’ engagement with Western scholarships requires an examination of the manner of translation. In this presentation, I demonstrate how Hoshina Kōichi (1872-1955) and Kindaichi Kyōsuke’s (1882-1971) contemporary yet divergent translations of Henry Sweet’s (1845-1912) The History of Language (1900) reveal theoretical concerns specific to the Japanese historical and linguistic context.


"Exploring the Interactional Functions of no da のだ as an Epistemic Marker"

Ya-Ting Tsai, PhD candidate in Chinese Linguistics

The pragmatic functions of the Japanese sentence-final expression no da のだ have sparked extensive discussion, yet diverse interpretations persist. I propose a redefinition of no da as an epistemic marker that presupposes proposition truth through nominalization. By using no da, speakers assert their commitment to the truth of the proposition to their interlocutors, thereby fostering an involvement function. This framework illuminates the varied uses of no da, encompassing explanatory, conjectural, rapport-building, reproachful, and backgrounding functions. As this project is still in progress, I eagerly welcome feedback during our workshop. Your insights are invaluable to refining this endeavor.


The East Asian Linguistics Workshop is sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. The workshop's purpose is to promote intra- and inter-departmental communication among faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars who share research and teaching interest in East Asia in the Stanford Community.