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Negotiating Moves: Problem Presentation and Resolution in Japanese Business Discourse

Lindsay Amthor Yotsukura
University of Maryland, College Park, USA

Product Details
09 May 2003
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
392 pages - 228 x 150 x 23mm


This study of Japanese business discourse adopts Bakhtin's notion of speech genres as an heuristic in order to analyze groups of spoken texts which display similar constellations of compositional, thematic, and stylistic features. Drawing upon a corpus of over 540 naturally-occurring telephone conversations collected in the Kanto and Kansai areas of Japan, Lindsay Amthor Yotsukura demonstrates how Japanese business professionals present, negotiate and clarify their identities and intentions and enlist and offer assistance with respect to a variety of transactions such as toiawase inquiries, merchandise orders, shipping confirmations, and reports of delivery problems. In the process, she highlights the critical deictic function of linguistic devices such as the no desu (extended predicate) construction in producing formulations, and politeness expressions that index the dynamic uti/soto ('inside'/ 'outside') continuum. She also illustrates some of the ways in which these "negotiating moves" are consonant with a number of Japanese "folk" metalinguistic concepts and expressions in order to underscore the importance of shared assumptions and expectations developed through experience in performing these genres of "talk at work" on a regular, collaborative, basis. 
Yotsukura's findings represent a unique and significant contribution to the discourse - and conversation-analytic literature on business negotiation because the field has until now focused almost exclusively on English and other Indo-European languages. The study should therefore provide an entirely different but equally important ethnographic perspective on the culturally nuanced, rhetorical strategies used by a non-Western community of speakers for the presentation and resolution of problems in business transactions.
Introduction: Objectives; 
Related linguistic studies on Japanese business discourse and negotiation; 
Motivation for the study; Identifying and describing a genre - Japanese business transactional telephone conversations; 
Bakhtin and the notion of speech genres; 
Focal exchange - problem presentation and resolution; 
Specific goals of the study; 
Overview of subsequent chapters. 
Data and Methodology: Introduction; 
Recent methods for data elicitation; 
Rationale for an ethnomethodological approach; 
Data collection methods for this study; 
Description of the JBC corpus; 
The genre of Japanese business transactional telephone conversations; 
Relevant findings from conversation analysis; 
Previous studies on offers in Japanese; 
Concluding remarks. 
The Structure of Japanese Business Transactional Telephone Conversations: Introduction; Business transactional calls vs service encounters; Overall structure and identifying register features; Call openings; Transition section; Matter(s) for business discussion; Pre-closing devices; Discussion of other issues or transactions; Concluding remarks. Types of Japanese Business Transactional Telephone Calls: Introduction; General toiawase inquiries; Merchandise orders; Shipping confirmations; Problem reports; Concluding remarks. Problem Presentation and Resolution in Japanese Business Transactional Calls: Introduction; Problem presentation and resolution in JBCs - two examples; Interactional asynchrony in JBCs; Problem reports in English; Problem reporting sequences in English vs; Japanese service encounters; Interactional asynchrony in English - service recipients' accounts vs; service providers' formulations; Problem resolution in English vs; Japanese; Concluding remarks. Cultural and Sociolinguistic Considerations: Introduction; Metalanguage regarding communication in Japanese; Ellipsis and uti/soto deixis; Japan as a high context culture; Concluding remarks; Conclusions. Strategies for reporting problems> The function and distribution of moves toward problem resolution; Role relationships, genre, and cultural norms; Putting genres to use; Areas for future research.

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