spaceCenter for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)

Introduction to Speech Acts

Let us assume that you have been studying abroad at a Japanese university in Tokyo for the last few months. This is your first time in Japan. You have taken a few years of Japanese at a university level in the U.S., and you have always been a pretty good student. You are living in a flat with a Japanese roommate, Jun. You love Japanese animation; in fact that is how you initially became interested in the language and culture. You are a music lover, also. Aside from classes in Japanese language, you are studying Japanese history and international relations. You are sociable by nature, which is why you wanted to have a roommate.

Situation 7:

You are waiting in a line at a department store to return a CD walkman that you had bought a few days earlier. The person in front of you in line is returning a defective tape-recorder she apparently bought the previous week. And then, much to your surprise, instead of complaining, she apologizes with すみませんが Sumimasenga ! You ask yourself why she needs to apologize. After all, she received faulty goods and has had to go to the trouble of returning the product to the store. She also says お手数ですが Otesuudesuga. What does that mean? If she is apologizing for returning what is clearly a defective item, what would be culturally appropriate behavior for you? What language would you use in attempting to return an item that works perfectly well?

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

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