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IntroductionThe analysis of politeness has often been approached from a cultural angle, describing the typical politeness norms of a specific culture (e.g. Streamlining is key in business, so having a process like your 8 dimensions can effectively keep quality managed.
While many of the enquiries into this subject have involved cross-cultural communication comparisons (e.g. This is to say, a great deal of the research on politeness has studied features of politeness in one culture and then compared them to features of politeness in another culture.
Even publications in journals such as the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research often consist of cross-cultural comparisons that all too often rely on discourse completion tasks (DCT) or questionnaire data, rather than on authentic data from real-life intercultural encounters (e.g.
Undoubtedly, there is value in such comparative studies, for example by exploring the perceptual effect differences in politeness norms have on members of different cultural backgrounds (Stadler, 2007). Nevertheless, such studies tell us little about what happens when members of two different cultures interact with one another (Miller, 2008).


They give a valuable insight into politeness as it applies to the conversations, for example, of Chinese people conversing with other Chinese. However, one should not draw generalisations from intracultural behaviour to predict intercultural behaviour. In order to better understand politeness and its use in intercultural encounters, empirical studies on politeness in authentic intercultural interactions are required (see for example Spencer-Oatey, [2000] 2008).The aim of this chapter is to examine critically a range of writings from different fields and their respective representations of politeness in an East Asian context. In order to be able to analyse some of the cultural stereotypes about politeness in different regions such as mainland China, Japan and Korea, in this chapter I examine writings geared towards a Western audience. Two different types of writings are discussed, popular writings and profession-specific writings. Popular writings consist mostly of a review of popular travel guides, writing on business and management and education writing.
I analyse these genres in order to explore how well a person can prepare him- or herself for interactions with members of East Asian societies.


The reason for a review of these popular writings lies in the fact that people frequently rely on the information such sources provide as preparation for overseas visits. The profession-specific writings reviewed in this chapter stem predominantly from linguistic politeness theory (defined in a somewhat loose sense) and the area of communication studies, rooted in psychology. Insights gained by professional writings will be scrutinised for the value they add to the knowledge gained from popular writings and for whether these writings manage to fill all the knowledge gaps necessary to enhance intercultural understanding.



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