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Japanese women’s language as spoken by foreign women in Elle Japon

Author

Summary, in English

An interesting phenomenon seen in Japanese translations of foreign women’s speech is the tendency to make them speak using women’s language. Women’s language in Japanese refers to a set of characteristics, consisting mainly of sentence final forms such as wa or kashira, that form a speech norm for women. Japanese women generally do not use this type of language, yet foreign women commonly speak it in translations. The present thesis aims to explore the factors behind this usage of women’s language in Japanese translations. A quantitative study was conducted by using statements from the January-May 2020 issues of the Japanese edition of the women’s magazine Elle as a corpus. The results of the study showed that foreign women used women’s language at a notably higher frequency than Japanese women, whose usage was almost inexistent. The results also showed that there was a strong correlation between the use of women’s language and the speaker’s occupation among the foreign women. Foreign women classified as ‘entertainers’ (actresses etc.) used women’s language more frequently than those classified as ‘creatives’ (designers etc.) and as belonging to ‘other occupations’, in their translated speech. The results of this thesis combined with observations of previous literature suggest that there might be an ideal user of women’s language, and that a given speaker’s closeness to this ideal is what determines whether she is translated as using women’s language or not.

Department/s

Publishing year

2020

Language

English

Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree

Topic

  • Languages and Literatures

Keywords

  • Japanese language
  • gender
  • sociolinguistics
  • translation
  • foreigners
  • final particles

Supervisor

  • Axel Svahn (Doctoral Student)