First order and second order indirectness in Korean and Chinese

Chen, Xi orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2393-532X and Wang, Jiayi orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2720-8218 (2021) First order and second order indirectness in Korean and Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics, 178 . pp. 315-328. ISSN 0378-2166

[thumbnail of Author Accepted Manuscript]
PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript) - Accepted Version

Official URL:


In this study, we investigate two types of indirectness in East Asian context, namely, native Korean and Chinese speakers' understanding of indirectness (i.e. first order indirectness) and their linguistic performance of indirectness (i.e. second order indirectness). In comparison to their western counterparts, East Asian communities have often been labeled as being indirect, while little attention has been paid to the variations in their indirectness. Our study explores this topic by analyzing three different sets of data, including Korean and Chinese speakers' contextual awareness, linguistic performance, and metapragmatic comments. The findings reveal a great deal of within-group variability in both the Korean and Chinese speakers’ choice of directness and indirectness, as well as a considerable number of cross-cultural differences. Korean and Chinese participants demonstrate different assessments of first order indirectness and reversed patterns in their use of second order indirectness. The variation in their communication styles and cross-cultural differences can only be explained by taking into consideration both the visible role relationships in an immediate context and the invisible interpersonal interests defined by each culture. The two aspects mesh together to form an intricate relational web, to which both native Korean and Chinese speakers are highly sensitive.

Repository Staff Only: item control page