Learning from Face-Threatening Acts by Tourism Workers in Bali: The Impacts of Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding

Anak Agung Ayu Dian Andriyani, Djatmika Djatmika, Sumarlam Sumarlam, Ely Triasih Rahayu


A face-threatening act (FTA) is considered to be an act, including an utterance, that can damage a person’s self-image (or face). This study aims to identify FTAs unintentionally committed by tourism workers toward Japanese tourists. Drawing on a qualitative approach, this study involved 25 participants, although interviews were only conducted with five Japanese tourists and four tourism workers who were available during the research. Data were collected through observation and interviews. Records and field notes were also used to collect data. In addition, domain, taxonomy, componential, and cultural theme analyses were applied to analyze the data and consider the power, distance, range of imposition, and speech situation. The results show that tourism workers perform negative FTAs when addressing Japanese tourists and offering goods or services for sale. Specifically, tourism workers demonstrate a) speech that implies oppression, b) the absence of honorific keigo, c) the use of titles not commonly used in Japanese culture in the same context, d) a failure to understand that Japanese tourists may want to enjoy the beach privately, and 5) speech when making offers that invades the privacy of Japanese tourists. Linguistically, tourist workers are using correct local conventions, but this cultural context is improperly perceived. Fortunately, the harmonious Hindu teachings of Bali’s local culture (Tri Hita Karana) help mitigate the disharmony.



Kuta Beach, Tourism Workers, Face-Threatening Acts, Japanese Tourists.

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