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'Is That Zo? You Don’t Ze…' : Learners of Japanese and the Sentence-final Particles Ze and Zo


  • Olof Svensson

Summary, in English

Learners of Japanese face many challenges when trying to create linguistic gender identities within the language. With little real experience to draw from, some learners may resort to fictional sources of exposure in order to create masculine identities. Ze and zo, two sentence-final particles that are often associated with male speech are featured quite heavily in fictional speech, but rarely occur in reality. There are recorded instances of learners who primarily used fictional speech as a source of exposure to masculine Japanese forms and speech styles. This reliance on fiction could be problematic for learners as there is a rather large gap between realistic everyday masculine speech and fictional speech. The present study found no obvious observable correlation between learning experience, method of practice or form of language exposure and the general awareness surrounding ze and zo as parts of masculine speech. However, it was discovered that learners on average selected ze and zo roughly twice as often native informants. The learners also showed a heavier reliance of guesswork in favour of tangible knowledge or awareness when adding ze and zo to pre-written dialogues.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Japanese
  • gendered language
  • sentence-final paricles
  • learning
  • ze
  • zo


  • Axel Svahn (Doctoral Student)