First Advisor

Patricia J. Wetzel

Date of Publication

Spring 7-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures




Grammar, Comparative and general -- Benefactive constructions, Japanese language -- Study and teaching -- English speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 131 pages)


This study explores how JFL learners take a benefactive stance in Japanese. As Jaffe (2009) observes, stance-taking "plays a complex role with respect to the naturalization of social and linguistic ideologies and the social structures they legitimate." The way in which language is used to take a stance always concerns the social context in which a speaker finds her/himself. In Japanese, benefactive verbs (kureru, ageru, morau and their honorific and humble equivalents) are indispensable stance indicators for showing gratitude or indebtedness. Such expressions do not really exist in English and their grammar is complex. It is assumed that JFL learners will struggle with taking a benefactive stance using those expressions. In order to analyze JFL learners' stance-taking, data were collected from narrative interviews with ten JFL learners who are currently in 300- and 400-level university courses. In order to explore how learners attempt to show stance-reflecting benefaction, they were asked questions that aimed to elicit a speaker's feelings of gratitude. Some examples of such questions are, "Who do you appreciate the most in your life?" or "Who is the most generous person you know?"

The data show that (1) learners do use (or attempt to use) benefactive verbs to indicate stance, (2) they also fail to use benefactive verbs in contexts where they are called for, and (3) they misuse benefactive verbs, e.g., using ageru instead of kureru. Furthermore, it revealed that learners tend to show stance using evaluation such as adjectives, adverbs, or ritual expressions that show appreciation but they fail to utilize benefactive verbs. This failure to project a benefactive stance can lead to miscommunication and/or misunderstanding between learners and Japanese speakers. I offer possible ways to promote learners' awareness of the benefaction in Japanese culture.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier