Gendered speech

Authored by: Yumiko Ohara

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415790277
eBook ISBN: 9781315213378
Adobe ISBN:


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Japanese language is often referred to as a prime example of a language with “true” sex differences. Women’s language and men’s language within the Japanese are frequently taken as topics in Japanese language learning and teaching as well as in linguistics particularly in sociolinguistics. This chapter attempts to elucidate the nature of these popular notions and the relationship between gender and language by tracing the historical development of how it has been studied starting out with a documentation of court ladies’ language usages around 1420 onward to the current research. The chapter encompasses aspects on lexical, morphological, syntactic, phonetic, phonological and discourse level phenomena from different theoretical approaches as well as meta-linguistic awareness of the language users including gender identities and how they are reflected in the language usage. It illustrates various researchers with different theoretical orientations and perspectives depict gendered speech in a multitude of ways and shows that gendered language, together with honorifics, was sometimes utilized for active construction and manipulation, implicitly or overtly, of languages usage and language attitude in Japan. In other words, how gendered speech has been studied shows assumptions about gender and language of the language users and thus it is a crucial and very fruitful area of inquiry in sociolinguistics especially concerning language ideology, social construction of language, gender and identity.

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