By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 12:31:06 -0700 (PDT) From: Çiler Hatipoglu Subject: Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology
EDITORS: Okamoto, Shigeko; Shibamoto Smith, Janet S. TITLE: Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology SUBTITLE: Cultural Models and Real People SERIES: Studies in Language and Gender PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2004
Çiler Hatipoglu, Department of Foreign Language Education, METU, Ankara, Turkey
INTRODUCTION AND SYNOPSIS
This book is an important and refreshing addition to the existing work on Japanese language and gender. It not only scrutinizes the language and gender topic from a newer and broader perspective but it also aims at and succeeds in showing the reader that Japanese language and gender research is a continuous dynamic rather than a sequence of unrelated stages. In addition to these, the book also introduces the reader to the work of a number of key Japanese scholars who have influenced the research on language and gender in Japan and put it on a sounder, more innovative track but whose work has not been readily available in English.
'Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology: Cultural Models and Real People' consists of three main parts: Part I: Historical and Theoretical Foundations, Part II: Linguistic Ideologies and Cultural Models and Part III: Real Language, Real People. Each of these parts includes 4 to 6 chapters. Every chapter is a separate paper dealing with Japanese language and gender research from a different perspective, and, as is usual in such collections, instead of presenting all references at the end of the book, the notes and lists of works cited are placed after each paper. This review will present a chapter-by-chapter description, followed by a few comments on the book as a whole.
PART I The first chapter in Part I presents a comprehensible summary of the developments in Japanese language and gender research from the latter parts of the 20th C until present day (Chapter 1: Cultural Ideologies in Japanese Language and Gender Studies: A Theoretical Review, by Sumiyuki Yukawa and Masami Saito, pp. 23-37). Sumiyuki Yukawa and Masami Saito start by explaining when and how the persistent essentialism that views Japanese women and men as two opposite categories (e.g., dominant- subordinate) was first introduced. A number of the following sections in the chapter are devoted to valuable information that has not yet been widely available in English: (1) the work of Japanese feminists on issues concerning language and gender and (2) the pioneering work of Jugaku Akiko (1979). When presenting the work of Japanese feminists, Yukawa and Saito focus on two groups: activists in the 'uuman ribu' 'woman's lib' movement in the early 1970s and feminist scholars in the 1980s and 1990s. Yukawa and Saito emphasise the fact that these two groups of feminists had different goals. The 'uuman ribu' feminists struggled against oppression through language and fought against it by employing 'subversive' language while the latter group's main objective was to eliminate "institutionalised manifestations of gender ideologies". Sections dedicated to Jugaku Akiko's work, present cogent discussions revealing why her work is important for language and gender research in Japan and how it is different from other studies conducted in this area. One of the most prominent features of Akiko's work, according to Yukawa and Saito, is her approach to the problem of language and gender. Akiko argues that when the topic of language and gender is in scope then it should not be forgotten that the language used to women and the topics deemed suitable for women are as important as the language used by women. In the final sections of this chapter, Yukawa and Saito, first review the Western-influenced Japanese language and gender research of the 1980s and 1990s, and then propose new research trends which they believe will serve better the goal of identifying the relationship between language, gender identity and ideology.
Shigeko Okamoto focuses on one of the most controversial topics in pragmatics and sociolinguistics in the last 50 years - language, gender and politeness - and her analyses interrogate the generalisation that "women speak more politely than men" (Chapter 2: Ideology in Linguistic Practice and Analysis: Gender and Politeness in Japanese Revisited, pp. 38-56). By a well-balanced comparison of (1) the widely accepted and well rehearsed claims that in order to be feminine (i.e., 'onnarashii'), Japanese women should speak in ways that are gentle, polite and refined and (2) the actual speaking practices, the author demonstrates the complexities involved in the studies of the relationship between politeness, use of honorifics and gender. Okamoto maintains that the differences between the real and the expected (i.e., the norm) are results of the fact that the following three assumptions are usually adopted as bases for theorizing about the characteristics of women's language in Japan: (i) Japanese women form a homogeneous group, therefore, the members of this group have to/should utilise language in the same way (ii) Employment of a number of linguistic devices, among those especially honorifics, makes utterances more polite (iii) 'Women should speak more politely than men, using honorifics and other formal expressions' (p. 41)
Okamoto's detailed analysis aims to show that these three non-neutral assumptions perpetuate the gender and class inequality in Japan. At the end of her chapter, she postulates (1) that what is seen as "the norm" may change depending on the interlocutor, on the context and across the time, and (2) that femininity and masculinity are exhibited at both ideological and practical levels. Therefore, even the use of honorifics may not always be interpreted as polite or 'onnarashii' speech.
Chapter 3 is the first of the two papers (the other one is Chapter 4) in Part I that examine the genealogy of "Japanese women's language" (Chapter 3: Gender, Language and Modernity: Toward an Effective History of "Japanese Women's Language", pp. 57-75). Miyako Inoue, who is interested in the period from the late 19th and the early 20th C, begins her paper by stating that '"Japanese women's language" is a critical cultural category and an unavoidable part of practical social knowledge of contemporary Japan' (p. 57). That is, Japanese women's language is viewed as 'cultural heritage' by many researchers and, according to them, it should not be changed since 'it is being recognised as beautiful and excellent beyond compare' (Kindaichi 1942:293). The crucial question that Inoue asks and tries to answers in this paper, however, is when and how this "metalinguistic gaze" upon women was instigated, and whether or not it is related to the standardisation of Japanese and the developments in modern narrative prose (i.e., the novel) in the late 19th and the early 20th C. The following detailed analysis of the language used by male and female characters (e.g., final particles), in different novels belonging to the period chosen for scrutiny by Inoue, shows readers that the "Japanese women's language" as it is known today is a product of the writers' believes and expectations more than a historically developed reality. This is a stimulating and provocative paper which can have important consequences for the sociolinguistics studies since it opens to discussion what is claimed to be natural and obvious.
Rumy Washi's paper '"Japanese Female Speech' and Language Policy" (pp. 76- 91) studies the history of the "Japanese female speech" in the period between 1920 and 1945. She argues that the period before and during the World War II was skilfully used by the government, media (e.g., radio, newspapers), national language scholars and commentators to create an artificial construct called "female speech", disguised under the name of 'language standardization policy', which actually aimed at promulgating 'gendered speech for women' (p. 88). She also examines why, when and how the prominent female educators of that period agreed to join forces with the National Language Association. The rationale that Washi presents for this cooperation is compelling: those who promoted the "female speech" associated it with higher status and better positions for women in Japanese society. What is more, female leaders viewed this partnership as a part of a broader pattern of collaboration with the war effort. It was not until after the World War II that Japanese women realised that "female speech", which they hoped to gain them equal status, only demoted them to subordinate position in the larger social order.
The last chapter in Part I focuses on groups of speakers whose language use has not yet received enough attention from linguists and other researchers: gays and lesbians (Chapter 5: Shifting Reference: Negotiating Referentiality in Relation to Sexuality and Gender, by Wim Lunsing and Claire Maree, pp. 92-109). The authors begin their paper by presenting a number of illustrative examples revealing how homosexuality is viewed in Japanese society and how this might affect the interpretation of gendered language. Lunsing and Maree argue that gender and sexuality are often conflated and that there are gendered and sexual stereotypes of language use. Therefore, according to them, lesbians and gay men use a "highly strategic" language to deal with these stereotypes. After that they present detailed discussions of the 'uses and abuses of terminology for male homosexuality' (p. 93) and introduce concrete examples related to the ways in which male homosexuals, lesbians and other groups studied by the authors choose to refer to themselves. The most memorable sections of this chapter are the ones in which authors present the personal stories of both gay men and lesbian women whose every day struggle is to match their non-normative sexual identities with the limited choices they have for self-reference determined by the social norms and expectations (e.g., the feminine self-reference 'watashi' vs. the manly self-reference 'boku'). Lunsing and Maree end their paper asserting that the self-reference choices for the group of informants examined by them are determined neither by norms and prescriptions nor by the speakers' gendered identification. According to them, how gays and lesbians refer to themselves is a combination of their individual senses of self and other contextual variables. Therefore, when analysing women's and men's language use, it is important to accept that personalities are established after periods of negotiation and that they may and should vary across situations and time.
PART II Part II opens with Janet S. Shibamoto Smith's paper (Chapter 6: Language and Gender in the (Hetero)Romance: "Reading" the Ideal Hero/ine through Lovers' Dialogue in Japanese Romance Fiction, pp. 113-130). The author works with 'unusual' data (i.e., nine Japanese love stories) and looks at the language and gender topic from a different angle. She studies how masculinity and femininity of men and women falling in love is conveyed in the language they utilize when in the company of their loved ones. Bringing together the analysis of first- and second-person references, and sentence final particles, Shibamoto Smith demonstrates that novelists make their leading characters use normative gendered speech extensively and, according to her, they do that deliberately. Shibamoto Smith postulates that love story writers hope that this way of speaking will be imitated by real men and women when interacting with people they are in love with. Shibamoto Smith also presents an interesting comparison of how main characters are depicted in Western and Japanese love stories. She points out to the fact that while in Western romances non-linguistic attributes (e.g., physical features) are emphasised, in Japanese culture, in the portrayal of model heroes and heroines, language is a crucial factor. Shibamoto Smith argues that it is clear that the writers of romances she examined have a special agenda: to perpetuate gender roles and gender politics, and to keep men and women as two distinct groups from each other. Her study is important, therefore, due to two main reasons: first, because it presents the intricacies involved in the studies of sex and gender to language; and second, because it shows how important language is in building/shaping cultural models of gendered subjects involved in particular activities such as falling in love.
Chapter 7 in this book is entitled "'Let's Dress a Little Girlishly!' or 'Conquer Short Pants!' Constructing Gendered Communities in Fashion Magazines for Young People" and it is authored by Momoko Nakamura (pp. 131- 147). Nakamura describes the aim of her paper as follows: 'Focusing on the notion of a magazine community, I demonstrate that magazine discourse constructs gendered communities by incorporating stereotypical gender organizations and conceptual frameworks' (p. 131). To prove her claim, she examines data drawn from four fashion magazines (two for young women and two for young men) published between 1999 and 2000, and she uses the reformulated version of Fairclough's (1989) model of the dialectic relationship between social structures and discourse as her analytical framework. Nakamura's thorough analysis shows that the language used in magazines (i.e., magazine discourse) attempts to construct specific and clearly differentiated female and male reader identities. That is, communities described in the examined magazines not only follow specific styles of fashion but they also have clearly defined gender identities. Therefore, structures such as exclamation marks, sentence final particles, hortative and interrogative expressions, that are stereotypically associated with female patterns of speech, are more frequently used in 'Junon' and 'Non-no' (i.e., in female magazines) than in male magazines (i.e., in 'Popeye' and 'Men's Non-no'). Similarly, features usually associated with male language (e.g., imperatives and use of assertive 'da' forms) are more regularly used in young men's magazines. According to Nakomoto, these dialectic relationships are mediated by ideologies and even when some new identities are invented (as in magazines, for example) some characteristics of gender ideology are reproduced.
The penultimate chapter in Part II examines cute femininity and the "behavioural paradox" in Japanese (Chapter 8: You Are Doing 'Burikko'! Censoring/Scrutinising Artificers of Cute Femininity in Japanese, pp. 148-165). Laura Miller first presents the stylistic characteristics of 'burikko' which is a belittling name used to describe women whose language and behaviour exhibit artificial and exaggerated naïveté/cuteness. After that, with the help of examples from comic books, magazines, novels and TV programmes, she shows how 'burikko' images are created in the mass media. Miller's analysis of 'burikko' features clearly shows, however, that Japanese women are faced with the "behavioural paradox" which stems from the fact that many of the attributive qualities of 'burikko' speech are also features that are prescribed and expected from Japanese women. This in turn forces young professional Japanese women to reject 'cute' language and to adopt a more masculine way of speaking which also has a special name in Japanese, i.e., 'oremeshi onna' 'me-food woman'. Miller argues that the fact that there are different names for the different speech styles used by women indicates that they are closely watched every step of their way and constantly judged whether or not they obey the desirable social traits. Miller's paper is enjoyable, challenging and well thought through.
Part II ends with Orie Endo's work entitled "Women and Words: The Status Of Sexist Language in Japan as Seen through Contemporary Dictionary Definitions and Media Discourse" (pp. 166-184). This paper examines another area that has been researched very little so far: the relation between the language used in Japanese dictionaries and sexist speech. Endo starts by describing how women are represented in something very special: dictionaries. That is, in the ultimate sources of reference for understanding the 'real' meaning of words. Endo presents a detailed analysis of three (of the many) derogatory terms used to describe women in Japanese in sample dictionaries and in media. The terms chosen for analysis are: 'onnadatera (ni)' 'despite being a woman', 'rooba' 'old woman/old crone' and 'oorudo misu' 'old maid/spinster'. Endo's careful comparison of data drawn from the 66-volume dictionary corpus reveals how far behind dictionaries fall from the language used in magazines and novels and other (semi)official documents in eliminating sexist language. She ends her paper by expressing regret that feminist movements and governments re-evaluation process of the bias lexicon failed to reach and influence the language used by dictionary writers who still continue to include sexists terms such as 'onnadatera (ni)', 'rooba' and 'oorudo misu' in their dictionaries without indicating their sexist nature. She rightly rejects the claim that dictionaries should be excused from reform efforts because they simply describe word meanings rather than prescribe their uses since this statement overlooks the fact of their textual authority which according to Cameron (1985), is political rather than linguistic. Orie Endo argues that since dictionaries give words authorised timeless meanings, they should take a more active role in redefining women's roles and images in Japanese life.
PART III Papers in this part of the book examine language used by real men and women in real interactions. Instead of restricting their studies only to female and male speakers of Standard Japanese, the authors also include women and men who are considered as linguistically "others" and whose language use has been overlooked so far.
One of these linguistically "other" groups is under scrutiny in Yukako Sunaoshi's work entitled "Farm Women's Professional Discourse in Ibaraki" (Chapter 10, pp. 187-204). Sunaoshi studies the interaction of three farmwomen, living in a farming community in Ibaraki Prefecture, with an Agriculture Extension Advisor. One important positive side of this study is that, together with the linguistic analysis, the author presents readers with detailed information about the social context within which the interaction takes place. This extra information makes it easier for readers to comprehend the character and the importance of the communications under scrutiny. Another point that adds to the value of this study is that Sunaoshi identifies the characteristics of the language used by each of the interacting parties and explains why they use that type of language. Analyses show that farmwomen employ Ibaraki dialect, which lacks the phonological, morphological and lexical features of standard "Japanese women's language", but it is employed by these women since it is a powerful linguistic tool that helps them to build their identities and relationships. The Agriculture Extension Advisor also uses the Ibaraki dialect because it helps him to demonstrate his solidarity with farmwomen and shows that they are treated as representatives of their households. At the end of her paper, Sunaoshi argues that researchers interested in "Japanese women's language", before talking about deviations from expected norms, should carefully consider how valid these rules are for women who do not belong to the groups usually studied in such research (i.e., middle class, educated women who usually live in one of the big cities in Japan). Therefore, instead of trying to formulate and identify deviation rules, language and gender researchers should examine language used by linguistic "others" as language or linguistic practice in its own right and start analysing and discussing the features of the language adopted by these "other" female users of Japanese language.
The second chapter in Part III, authored by Hideko Abe, focuses on two important features of the language utilised by women in lesbian bars in Shinjuku, Tokyo: (1) use of a variety of category names to classify themselves and others (e.g., 'rezu' 'lesbian' vs. 'futsuu' 'ordinary'), and (2) employment of linguistic features such as sentence final particles, self-reference and address terminology, stereotypically associated with male speakers (Chapter 11: Lesbian Bar Talk in Shinjuku, Tokyo, pp. 205-221). The analyses of these characteristics reveal that for informants of this study gender identities are neither fixed nor natural. Hideko Abe argues that lesbian speakers constantly negotiate these variables among themselves and their gender identities as well as their power relationships might shift depending on the context within which the interaction takes place. This is a stimulating and provocative paper which asks readers to consider new variables when examining the language and gender topic.
Differently from the first two studies in Part III, Yoshiko Matsumoto's paper (Chapter 13: Alternative Femininity: Personae of Middle-aged Mothers, pp. 240-255) examines the language of women that have been assumed to use stereotypical feminine language, i.e., middle-class, middle- aged standard Japanese speaking housewives. Matsumoto sets to uncover how members of this group of subjects utilise expressions of forcefulness and delicacy, each of which has been associated with male and female speech styles respectively. Findings of the study show that each of the examined individuals has her own linguistic repertoire and even "typical" women do not use the traditional feminine speech style all the time. Moreover, some participants were found to employ delicate expressions more frequently than others. According to Matsumoto, the observed disparities can be explained with the multifaceted pragmatic and social meanings conveyed by forceful and delicate expressions. They can successfully be utilised, for instance, to signal either friendship or deference and women make use of these linguistic devices to assemble complex and flexible personae and relationships. This, according to Matsumoto, shows clearly that the level of feminine language observed in each woman's speech depends more on the observed speaker's social characteristics and communicative objectives than on their gender. Stated differently, she shows that femininity should not be treated as a single or simple concept.
Chapter 12 and Chapter 14 in Part III set to observe not only women's but also men's language used in real social situations. The first of these chapters (Chapter 12: Prosody and Gender in Workplace Interaction: Exploring Constraints and Resources in the Use of Japanese, pp. 222-239), authored by Yumiko Ohara, examines the voice pitch level used by women and men interacting either with company customers or friends. When presenting the outcomes of her study, Ohara states that even though high-pitch voice is usually associated with polite speech and femininity, her female informants did not use this prosody exclusively and that male participants in her study were also observed to use it. When defining the similarities and differences between the ways/areas in which men and women use high- pitch voice, she states that both gender groups concur that high-pitch voice should be used to emphasise certain parts of their utterances. The most striking difference between males and females was, however, the fact that females (but not males) consistently used considerably higher pitch voice in more formal contexts (i.e., when speaking to customers) when compared with informal contexts (i.e., speaking to close friends). Therefore, the author concludes that there is a complex relationship between gender, voice pitch and the identity of the participants in interaction. That is why, when the aim is to find whether or not there is a relationship between prosody and gender in a specific cultural environment, a special care should be taken to define the contexts within which the interaction takes place. As demonstrated in this study, women may be more sensitive to changes in some variables (e.g., level of formality) related to the situation than men and vice versa.
The second paper that compares the speech styles utilised by females and males is titled "Japanese Junior High School Girls' and Boys' First Person Pronoun Use and Their Social World" (Chapter 14, by Ayumi Miyazaki, pp. 256-274). It is an extensive ethnographic study which aims to compare the similarities and differences in the ways female and male junior high school students employ first-person pronouns. In Japanese there are strict rules that define the normative usage of first person pronouns. It is assumed that some forms are gentler and, therefore, more appropriate to be used by women (e.g., 'atakushi' and 'atashi') while others are rougher (e.g., 'boku' and 'ore') and are more suitable for men. The assumption is that it is socially unacceptable for men and women to cross these boundaries and to utilise linguistic forms inappropriate for their gender. Miyazuki's findings indicate just the opposite tendency, however. That is, far from obeying the social norms junior high school students challenged existing norms and adopted non-normative use of pronouns (e.g., girls used masculine first person pronouns such as 'boku' and 'ore'). So, the question asked by Miyazuki was 'Why?'. After examining the social relationships among students within the classroom and students views of the pragmatic functions of these pronouns, she found that which first-person pronouns students use to refer to themselves depends on contextual features such as level of formality, power and solidarity as well as gender. This study is important in showing once more that the relationship between gender and linguistic forms is very complex, and in order to uncover some of the vital factors affecting this relationship we have to conduct as detailed analysis as possible otherwise some of those factors might be overlooked.
The last paper in this book is very different from the rest since it focuses on men's language (Chapter 15: Japanese Men's Linguistic Stereotypes and Realities: Conversations from the Kansai and Kanto Regions, by Cindi Sturtz Sreetharan, pp. 275-289). Sturtz Sreetharan explains the rationale behind this study by saying that there is very little empirical research examining "Japanese men's language". She aims to uncover how men who speak standard Japanese as well as those who use a regional dialect (Kansai, or Hanshinkan dialect) utilise sentence-final particles. Sturtz Sreetharan's detailed analysis reveals that there are individual and regional differences in the use of sentence-final particles. What is more interesting, however, is the fact that she found her informants to deviate considerably from the prescribed (i.e., normative) usage of sentence-final particles. This, according to Sturtz Sreetharan, weakens the claim that there is a single "Japanese men's language". The fact that all of her informant utilised relatively small number or sentence-final particles, leads her to conclude that differently from the social expectation about male language, those men do not view sentence-final particles as linguistic devices that express only traditional masculinity. She lists examples in which sentence-final particles were employed to show anger, authority or camaraderie. When it comes to speakers of the regional dialect, it becomes clear that they avoid using some forms existing in standard Japanese in order to create a sense of friendliness or solidarity.
"Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology: Cultural Models and Real People" is a fresh, interesting and groundbreaking addition to the work in the language and gender area. The papers brought together in this volume are all exciting, motivating and different from what we have been accustomed to read about Japanese culture and the speech patterns/styles of Japanese men and women. The book presents a more diverse and more inclusive picture of the language and gender relationship in Japan which broadens our understanding of the roles of women and men in Japanese culture. The standard of all of the studies included in the book are consistently and noticeably high. The high quality data collected from widely ranging groups of subjects and sources and the detailed analysis employed in the studies allow researches to uncover and describe vital features that affect the way Japanese women and men use language that have been overlooked in some of the previous studies.
The way in which papers are ordered in the book allows readers to move from one area into another smoothly. The first part of the volume present readers some important facts related to the history and culture of Japan. Against the background established in Part I, it is easy to understand and enjoy the work presented in the following parts. The language used in the book is easy to comprehend and the book could be recommended to both novices in the field of language and gender research as well as to language and gender experts. Topics covered in the book will be of interest to culture, cross-cultural communication, politeness as well as phonology experts.
Cameron, Deborah. (1985). Feminism and Linguistic Theory. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Fairclough, Norman. (1989). Language and Power. London: Longmna.
Kindaichi, Kyosuke. (1942). Zooho Kokugo Kenkyuu (A Study of the National Language, Additional Supplement). Tokyo: Yakumoshorin.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Dr Çiler Hatipoglu is a lecturer at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, where she teaches various linguistics and ELT courses. Her main areas of interest are language and gender, politeness, cross- cultural communication and interlanguage pragmatics.