Yasuko Obana (Kwansei Gakuin University)

Michael Haugh (The University of Queensland)


The Japanese auxiliary te-kureru (‘giving to the speaker or the speaker’s group member’) is traditionally assumed to connote gratitude, favour or ‘politeness’, and thus is regarded as a benefactive. In this paper we argue that te-kureru does not inherently indicate benefaction, but rather that its occurrence, whether it is grammatically obligatory or optional, serves to intensify the speaker’s affective stance towards the referent in that given context. This accounts for the way in which this auxiliary may also contribute to expressions of sarcasm, anger, contempt or retaliation. We propose that because malefaction is unfavourable to the speaker, the speaker deliberately takes a lower stance through te-kureru, making as if the other’s unfavourable action was taken from a higher position, which amounts to a putting down or deliberate neglect of the speaker. We also suggest that the auxiliary remains affectively neutral if the context is neither benefactive nor malefactive in orientation.

Speaker Bio

Yasuko Obana is a Professor at the Kwansei Gakuin University School of Science and Technology, teaching English to undergraduate students and linguistics to postgraduate students. Her research interests include pragmatics and text processing of anaphora.

Michael Haugh is Professor of Linguistics and Head of the School of Languages and Cultures. His research interests lie primarily in the field of pragmatics, with a focus to date on analysing face, (im)politeness, teasing and humour, indirectness, and intention. He works with recordings and transcriptions of naturally occuring spoken interactions, as well as data from digitally-mediated forms of communications, across a number of languages, as he is ultimately interested in the ways in which pragmatic phenomena have their distinct local flavours, both across and within languages and cultures.

Seminar: Malefactive uses of giving/receiving expressions: The case of te-kureru in Japanese

Fri 25 Aug 2017 12:00pm1:00pm


Gordon Greenwood Building The University of Queensland, St Lucia