LINGUIST List 11.2183

Tue Oct 10 2000

Books: Japanese Pragmatics

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>

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  1. LINCOM EUROPA, Japanese Pragmatics: Speaking of Power, H. Abe

Message 1: Japanese Pragmatics: Speaking of Power, H. Abe

Date: Mon, 09 Oct 2000 15:51:07 +0200
Subject: Japanese Pragmatics: Speaking of Power, H. Abe

Speaking of Power: 
Japanese Professional Women and Their Speeches
Western Michigan University

There are three issues in the speech of Japanese women which need
reevaluation: women's speech as categorical, as powerless, and as
marked. Previous studies on Japanese women's speech characterized it
"polite", "soft", or "less assertive"; however, the author challenges
these assertions and examines how women "control" their speech in
interaction. There are pressing questions as to what it is to obtain
communicative competence as Japanese women, how women obtain what they
want, how women manipulate their speech to satisfy their goals, and
how women's role and/or status affects how they speak. In order to
answer these questions, the author looks to various immediate speech
contexts in which frequent inguistic shifts are observed. For
instance, native speakers of Japanese associate sentence-final
particles with gender, so by looking at these (with the combination of
distal and direct styles of predicates), the author analyzes how women
navigate "masculinity" or "femininity" in speech in order to negotiate
power. While some women prefer using so-called "masculine"
sentence-final particles in business negotiation, others prefer
"feminine" ones. The author finds that urban professional Japanese
women are aware of the distinction between the "femininity" and
"masculinity" attached to a sentence-final particle. That difference
is distinguishable, but it is generally idealized along the lines of
dominant gender stereotypes: men's language=strong /women's
language=weak. Significantly, female consultants consistently use
both. In other words, they can successfully negotiate both
"masculinity" and "femininity" without being constrained by either.
Some consultants appropriate men's language while struggling for
power, turning the stereotype to their own advantage. Other
consultants who have established their power use feminine forms in
just as powerful ways. The status of position outweighs the weakness
implied by the stereotype.

ISBN 3 89586 890 6. 
LINCOM Studies in Pragmatics 10. 
Ca. 170 pp. USD 48 / DM 92 / � 29.

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Monday, October 09, 2000