Major research activity
My research interest is into pragmatics. I am particularly interested in politeness, and recently by applying Symbolic Interactionists' Role Theory which is well established in Social Psychology, I attempt to explain why particular linguistic forms are employed in aiming at politeness. Linguistic politeness is the implementation of one's role-identity, which emerges through interaction in a given situation. When the situation is defined, the interactants interpret all sorts of objects (symbols) surrounding themselves, which create, frame and re-shape certain 'roles' they will take or make in the ongoing interaction. Roles determine what they do and how they behave, and politeness is judged in accordance with how appropriately roles are implemented in linguistic forms.
I am concurrently examining joint utterance construction, which is an utterance completed jointly by two or more participants in interaction. In Japanese, so-called 'relay co-construction' and 'opposing co-construction' commonly occur because of its syntactic arrangements in structure. Unlike English, in which the first speaker controls the syntactic construction, Japanese allows both participants to convert, re-arrange and control the structure, as if they were weaving an intricate tapestry.
Major relevant publications
- Yasuko Obana. 2012. "Re-examination of yoroshiku onegaishimasu - The routine formula as the linguistic impplementation of one's tachiba-role", Journal of Pragmatics, 44, 1535-1548.
- Michael Haugh and Yasuko Obana. 2011. "Politeness in Japan" In: Daniel Kadar & Sara Mills (eds.) 'Politeness in East Asia', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp147-175 (Book chapter)
- Yasuko Obana. 2000. Understanding Japanese: A Handbook for Learners and Teachers. Kurosio Publishers (Book: 366 pages)