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Iru vs Irassharu, and other lexical substitutions in Japanese : focusing on second language acquisition by Swedish learners


  • Joakim Wikman

Summary, in English

The purpose of this study is to examine the difference between Swedish learners of Japanese and Japanese native speakers when they use lexical substitutions. The hypotheses made for this thesis was that second language learners would find it difficult to apply humble lexical substitutions to themselves and their social group. The other hypothesis proposed that when not knowing what form to use, the verb equivalent would be adapted. To examine these hypotheses, two surveys were sent out; one to Swedish learners of Japanese and one to Japanese native speakers. These surveys consisted of multiple-choice questions and had no altering research questions except for finding out certain specifics about the participants. The answers were later examined, and it became apparent that when exalting a member in a conversation, both groups agreed to what form would be used, only with insignificant exceptions. However, the Swedish group gave differing answers when using humble lexical substitutions with themselves or their belonging social group; this confirming the first hypothesis to be correct. Contrary to the first hypothesis, the second one was not correct. It showed that those with less experience with the language used a mix of lexical substitutions and the verb equivalent, even if the answers did not match the Japanese group.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Japanese
  • Lexical substitutions
  • Keigo
  • Second language acquisition
  • Honorifics


  • Axel Svahn (Doctoral Student)