By Diane N. Palmer
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Extra info for A Teacher's Guide to The Struggle against Slavery: A History in Documents (Pages from History)
Thus, the masu and plain forms do not directly index soto (‘out-group/outside’) and uchi (‘ingroup/inside’) respectively. In sum, most previous studies have assumed that the masu and plain forms are directly linked to only one social meaning and they have not taken into account that these forms are indexical in nature. As I discuss below, politeness or formality typically associated with the masu form is an interpretation based on other related concepts. In other words, there is no one-to-one direct relationship between the masu form and politeness or formality.
As the masu form has a clear morphological marking contrasted with the plain form, a number of scholars studying Japanese have investigated the functions of the masu form. Most of the previous studies have focused on only one dimension of its social meaning, namely politeness/formality, and investigated what triggers the shift between polite and non-polite speech levels. First, I will discuss previous proposals regarding the masu form below. Rule-based usage of the masu form In Japanese, the masu form is called teineitai (‘polite form’) and the plain form, futsuutai (‘ordinary form’).
7 In other words, the naked plain form typically occurs when the speaker does not design his or her utterance in order to interactionally accommodate the addressee. In contrast, the masu form is more likely to occur in contexts in which the speaker’s awareness of the addressee is high. These are instances in which the speaker deliberately addresses the addressee such as in (1) formal relationships and (2) presenting main information directly addressed to the addressee. Although Maynard’s observation is insightful, it does not explain why immediate family members sometimes use the masu form in informal settings.