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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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The Multiple Functions of Sumimasen


This study will provide a fuller account of the functions of sumimasen, one of the expressions used for both apology and thanks in everyday Japanese conversation. In order to accurately explain these functions, it is necessary to carefully observe the different socio-cultural contexts in which this expression occurs. Hence, a database consisting of ten hours of daily conversation was used as the foundation for the study, with these ten hours of talk yielding a total of 44 tokens of sumimasen. This study will also attempt to relate sumimasen to other strategies for expressing apology and gratitude in Japanese and to examine whether certain values of Japanese society may be reflected through the usage of this expression.

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