The successful decoding of a linguistic message requires knowledge of a particular grammar, but it is becoming increasingly clear that contextual and cultural cues also play an important role in understanding utterances in conversation. In Japanese, conversation proceeds smoothly and acquires some of its meaningfulness due to the use of gestural signals, namely head nodding. This paper discusses how head nodding operates in Japanese and interprets its use as it relates to the Cooperative Principle of Grice and as an indicator of cultural values.
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