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Exercise 1: Cross-cultural Comparison of Apologies


Imagine the following situation in which you interact with an American in English.

You are a college student living in an apartment in the U.S. Your landlord, John, lives on the premises. You have stayed out late with some friends. As soon as you return to the apartment, you realize that you have left your keys in your room and are locked out. You know that John goes to bed early every night. You ring the doorbell several times and John finally answers. He sounds sleepy and annoyed.

Read what John says and write down what you would say as if you were speaking in real life.

1. John: Who is it?



2. John: It's a bit late, you know.



3. John: Don't do it again, OK?





Now listen to a female Japanese college student, Takako now in the same boat as you were, being locked out in the middle of the night in Tokyo. She rings her landlord's door bell to get him to unlock the door for her.

After you listen, compare English and Japanese apologies and make your own hypotheses about what Japanese apologies generally might be like. Your responses will be collected by e-mail. Once you send in your response, you will be able to see some sample answers or comments.

Click Below to Listen

4. What apology expression(s) in English did you use above? List all of them below.


5. What are the Japanese expressions used in the dialogue? List all of them below.


6. How many times do you use the apology expression(s) (e.g., "I'm sorry") in English?


7. How many apology expressions were used in the Japanese dialogue?


8. Your hypotheses (or question) about Japanese apologies:

Read Sample Dialogue Transcript


Your section (if applicable)/Your last name, Your first name:
Example: (in a box) 010/Smith, John

Submit Your Questions and Comments about Exercise/Website

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