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Conference Information

Full Title: Gender, Regional and Generational Varieties in Japan
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Start Date: 16-Jul-2017 - 21-Jul-2017
Contact: Lidia Tanaka
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Panel Conveners: Ikuko Nakane (The University of Melbourne) and Lidia Tanaka (La Trobe University)

Aside from dialect specialists, most linguistic studies have traditionally focused on standard Japanese or hyōjungo based on a variety of Japanese spoken in the middle upper class neighbourhood of Tokyo. The speech of these speakers was used to validate a number of generalizations such as the differentiation between male and female language, or the use of honorifics and politeness strategies. In recent years, however, many researchers have contested those studies arguing that they are not representative of Japanese and they have started to look at the speech of non-urban and non-standard variety speakers from a variety of social and professional backgrounds (see e.g., Okamoto & Shibamoto-Smith, 2004).

Studies on dialect distribution, phonology, semantics, syntax, honorifics, modern dialects and specific dialects have produced many interesting results. While these have contributed enormously to the understanding of the diversity of Japanese, there is a paucity of research from the viewpoint of discourse, including language usage in one’s lifespan (Kobayashi & Shinozaki, 2003), and dialect speakers’ development of different variants as well as hyōjungo (Standard Japanese). The assumption that all dialects have honorifics and ‘genderlects’ needs to be critically explored with more empirical discourse studies. A number of researchers have explored how particular linguistic variables from standard Japanese are incorporated in younger generation of ‘dialect’ speakers (e.g., Takagi, 2005) or the code shifting to Standard Japanese or dialect in the same conversation (e.g., Didi-Ogren, 2011; Okamoto, 2008), or the lack of ‘genderlects’ in some northern dialects; however, much more research is needed in order to know, for example, when speakers adopt features of new variations and what factors may trigger these changes.

Didi-Ogren, H. (2011). Japanese women’s language use and regional language varieties: Gender and Language, 5(1), 61-87.
Kobayashi, T., & Shinozaki, Koichi (Ed.) (2003). A Guide Book to Dialect Research. Tokyo: Hizuji.
Okamoto, S. (2008). Speech style and the use of region (Yamaguchi) and Standard Japanese in conversations. In K. Jones & T. Ono (Eds.), Style shifting in Japanese (pp. 229-250). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Okamoto, S., & Shibamoto-Smith, J. (Eds.). (2004). Japanese language, gender and ideology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Takagi, C. (2005). Usage of the Standard Form janai (ka) by Young Speakers of Kansai Dialect. The Society of Japanese Linguistics, 1(2), 19-33.
Linguistic Subfield: Pragmatics
Subject Language: Japanese
LL Issue: 27.2876

This is a session of the following meeting:
15th International Pragmatics Conference

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