The Interlanguage Pragmatics of Japanese Daily Greetings by Malaysian Learners

Jamila Mohd, Jamaluddin Aziz, Talaibek Musaev


Scholars in pragmatics argue that the teaching of a second language (L2) must pay extra attention to the language forms and expressions within specific cultural contexts. Not being able to use a L2 according to the nature of its cultural context could sometimes lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication. This study aims to explain the interlanguage pragmatic transfer in daily greetings used by Malaysian learners of Japanese. Using a convenient sampling technique, the respondents are 80 Malay students enrolling in a Japanese preparatory program prior to attending Japanese universities. Being competent in using Japanese language in context is therefore crucial for them. This study employs a qualitative research approach using Discourse Completion Tests (DCT) and follow-up interviews. Shleykina’s model of greetings is appropriated and used as the framework which allows data to be categorized into six patterns. The findings show that Malaysian learners chose to use less greetings when they greet their Japanese friends vis-a-vis their Malaysian friends. The types of Japanese greetings they use are mostly greeting expressions from what they have learned in the classrooms. Other casual greetings applied are learned from anime, dramas and Japanese TV programs. This study revealed that some of the Japanese greetings used are actually a direct translation from Bahasa Melayu. This pragmatic transfer has offered two perspectives, which are, success transfer and failure transfer. The results contribute towards the importance of exposure to and the understanding of the cultural context of a target language in choosing appropriate greetings among L2 in interlanguage context.


Pragmatic; Malaysian Learners; Japanese; Greetings; Interlanguage

Full Text:



Al Rashidi, Nader Muhaya. (2017). An Interlanguage Pragmatic Study of Saudis’ Complaints. Studies in Literature and Language. 15(2), 11-19.

Ali, Sheeraz, Bahram Kazemian & Israr Hussain Mahar. (2015). The Importance of Culture in Second and Foreign Language Learning. Dinamika Ilmu. 15(1), 1-10.

Allan, Keith. (2012). Pragmatics in the (English) Lexicon. In Keith Allan and Kasia M. Jaszczolt (Eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics, 227-250. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Ariel, Mira. (2010). Research Surveys in Linguistics. Defining Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Armasu, Veronica-Diana. (2012). Modern Approaches to Politeness Theory. A Cultural Context. Lingua. Language and Culture. 11 (1), 9-19.

Asmah, Haji Omar. (1992). The Linguistic Scenery in Malaysia. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka: Kuala Lumpur.

Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, House, Juliane & Kasper, Gabriele. (1989). Investigating Cross-cultural Pragmatics: An Introductory Overview. In Blum-Kulka et al. (ed.).

Cross-cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. 1-34. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.

Blum-Kulka, Shoshana. (1991). Interlanguage Pragmatics: The Case of Requests. In R. Phillipson, E. Kellerman, L. Selinker, M. Sharwood Smith, & M. Swain (Eds.),

Foreign/Second Language Pedagogy Research (pp. 255-272). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters

Brodman, Jean & Ebsworth, Miriam. (1988). May God Increase Your Bounty: The Expression of Gratitude in English by Native and Non-native Speakers. Cross

Currents. 15, 1-21.

Brown, Penelope & Levinson, Stephen C. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Burdelski, Matthew. (2013). Socializing Children to Honorifics in Japanese: Identity and Stance in Interaction. Multilingua. 32(2), 10.1515/mult-2013-0012.

Chan, Yee-Han & Wong, Ngan-Ling. (2017). Learning Japanese through Anime. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 8 (3), 485-495.

Crystal, David. (1985). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ebsworth, Miriam, Brodman, Jean & Carpenter, Mary. (1996). Cross-cultural Realization of Greetings in American English. In S. Gass, & J. Neu (Eds.), Speech Acts

Across Cultures: Challenges to Communication in a Second Language, 89-108. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Goffman, Erving. (1971). Relations in Public. Microstudies of the Public Order, New York: Basic Books.

Grice, Paul H. (1982). Meaning Revisited. In N.V. Smith (ed.) Mutual Knowledge. London: Academic Press.

House, Juliane & Kasper, Gabriele. (1987). Interlanguage Pragmatics: Requesting in a Foreign Language. In Loerscher, W. & Schulze, R., (Eds.). Perspectives on

Language in Performance (pp. 1250-88). Tuebingen: Narr.

Inawati Iin. (2016). The Pragmatics of Greetings Reflected in the Textbooks for Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Indonesia. Ahmad Dahlan Journal of English

Studies (ADJES). 3(2), 1-10.

Indirawati Zahid & Arina Johari. (2018). Kesantunan Melayu: Analisis Konteks Perbualan dalam Rancangan Bual Bicara. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies.

Vol. 18(4),168-185.

Jamila Mohd. (2009). Danwa Bunseki: Shotaimen no Bamen niokeru Nihongo Watai no Tsukaiwake nikanshite - Ba no Ishikika ni Mukete. Jurnal Bahasa dan Budaya

Jepun. 1, 57-68.

Jamila Mohd & Talaibek Musaev. (2011). Konsep Gaya Teineitai dan Futsutai dalam Perbualan Bahasa Jepun. Jurnal Bahasa dan Budaya Jepun. 2, 65-75.

Jenkins, Jennifer. (2007). English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Jiao Lu, John G. Grundy, Cong Liu & Baoguo Chen. (2020). Language Context Modulates Executive Control in Bilinguals: Evidence from Language Production.

Neuropsychologia. 142, 1-11.

Maysa’a Khadim Jibreen. (2010). The Speech Act of Greeting: A Theoretical Reading. Journal of Kerbala University, Humanities, 8(1), 1-25.

Kakiuchi, Y. (2005). Greetings in English: Naturalistic Speech versus Textbook Speech. In Pragmatics in Language Learning, Theory, and Practice, ed. D. Tatsuki, 61–

Tokyo: JALT Pragmatics.

Kasper, Gabriele. (1989). Variation in Interlanguage Speech Act Realization. In Gass, S., Madden, C., Preston, D. & Selinker, L., (Eds.). Variation in Second Language

Acquisition: Discourse and Pragmatics, 37-58. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Kasper, Gabriele., & Dahl, Merete. (1991). Research Methods in Interlanguage Pragmatics (Technical Report #1). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i, Second

Language Teaching & Curriculum Center.

Kasper, Gabriele. & Blum-Kulka, Shoshana. (1993). Interlanguage Pragmatics: An Introduction, 3. New York Oxford University.

Kasper, Gabriele. & Rose, Kenneth R. (2002). Pragmatic Development in a Second Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

Kecskes, Istvan, Robert E. Sanders, Anita Pomerantz. (2018). The Basic Interactional Competence of Language Learners. Journal of Pragmatics. 124:88-105.

Kikuchi, Yasuto. (1997). Keigo. Tokyo Kodansha Gakujutsubunko.

Koike, Dale April. (1989). Pragmatic Competence and Adult L2 Acquisition: Speech Acts in Interlanguage. Modern Language Journal 73: 79-89.

Mizushima, Lisa. (2012). Nihonjin EFLGakushuusha niyoru Hatsuwa-Koi ‘Shoutai/Kanyu’ no Shuutoku nitsuite: Daigaku Eigo kurasu niokeru Kyodo Gakushuu no

Torkikumi to Kooka no Kensho. Sapporo Gakuin Daigaku Jinbun Gakkai Kiyo. 91:85-98.

Németh T. Enikő. (2004). The Principles of Communicative Language Use. Acta Linguistica Hungarica. 51(3):379-418.

Nilsson Jenny, Catrin Norrby, Love Bohman, Klara Skogmyr Marian, Camilla Wide, Jan Lindstrom. (2020). What is in a Greeting? The Social Meaning of Greetings in

Sweden-Swedish and Finland-Swedish Service Encounters. Journal of Pragmatics. 168:1-15.

Olshtain, Elite & Cohen, Andrew. (1989). Speech Act Behavior Across Languages. In Dechert, H.W. and Raupach, M., (Eds), Transfer in Language Production. 53-67.

Norwood, NJ.

Ochs, Elinor. (1996). Linguistic Resources for Socializing Humanity. In J. Gumperz & S. Levinson (Eds.). Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. 407-437. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Roswati Abdul Rashid, Isma Rosila Ismail, Radhiah Ismail & Roslina Mamat. (2017). Ketidaksantunan dalam Perbualan Bahasa Jepun oleh Pemandu Pelancong

Malaysia. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies. Vol.17(3):86-105.

Salmani-Nodoushan, Mohammad Ali. (2007). Greeting Forms in English and Persian: A Socio-pragmatic Perspective. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 4:355-362.

Schleicher, Antonia Folarin. (1997). Using Greetings to Teach Cultural Understanding. The Modern Language Journal. 81(3): 334-343.

Sperber, Dan & Wilson, Deirdre. (2002). Pragmatics, Modularity and Mind‐reading. Mind & Language, 17: 3-23. doi:10.1111/1468-0017.00186

Shleykina, Galina. (2019). The Interlanguage Pragmatics of Greetings. Beyond Word. A Journal on Applied Linguistics and Language Education. 7(1): 43-60.

Stadler, Stefanie. (2018). Cross‐Cultural Pragmatics. In The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, C.A. Chapelle (Ed.). doi:10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0289.pub2

Takahashi, Tomoko & Beebe, Leslie. M. (1987). The Development of Pragmatic Competence by Japanese Learners of English. JALT Journal. 8(2): 131-155.

Taguchi, Naoko. (2017). Interlanguage Pragmatics. In A. Barron, P. Grundy & G. Yueguo (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Pragmatics. 153-167. Oxford/New York:


Todd, Enslen. (2010). Acquisition of Greetings, Requests, and Apologies by Japanese Students in an ESL vs. an EFL Environment. Bulletin of the Institute for

Excellence in Higher Education, Tohoku University. No.1, 2015 (5): 187-199.

Usami, Mayumi. (2002). Discourse Politeness in Japanese Conversation: Some Implications for a Universal Theory of Politeness. Tokyo: Hitsuzi Shobo.

Van Dijk, Teun A. (2009). Society and Discourse: How Social Contexts Influence Text and Talk. Cambridge University Press.

Wei, Li (2009). Different Communication Rules between the English and Chinese Greetings. Asian Culture and History. Vol 1, No.2: 72-74.

Wei, Yun. (2005). Integrating Chinese Culture with TEFL in Chinese Classroom. Sino-US English Teaching. Vol.2 (7): 55-58.

Zainal Abidin Ahmad. (1950). Malay Manners and Etiquette. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 23 (3): 43-74.

Zeff, B. Briklin. (2016). The Pragmatics of Greetings: Teaching Speech Acts in the EFL Classroom. English Teaching Forum. 54 (1): 2-11.



  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2131

ISSN : 1675-8021