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The Social Life of the Japanese Language
Cultural Discourse and Situated Practice

$110.00 (C)

  • Date Published: August 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107072268

$ 110.00 (C)
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  • Why are different varieties of the Japanese language used differently in social interaction, and how are they perceived? How do honorifics operate to express diverse affective stances, such as politeness? Why have issues of gendered speech been so central in public discourse, and how are they reflected and refracted in language use as social practice? This book examines Japanese sociolinguistic phenomena from a fascinating new perspective, focusing on the historical construction of language norms and its relationship to actual language use in contemporary Japan. This socio-historically sensitive account stresses the different choices which have shaped Japanese and Western sociolinguistics and how varieties of Japanese, honorifics and politeness, and gendered language have emerged in response to the socio-political landscape in which a modernizing Japan found itself.

    • Examines three major Japanese sociolinguistic phenomena and considers how each emerged in response to the socio-political landscape in Japan
    • New approach focuses on linguistic form as fluid relationship and mediated by cultural and linguistic ideologies
    • Covers a wide range of topics, including dialectal variation, gender differences, and honorific usage
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107072268
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus. 4 maps 39 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: toward a dynamic model of Japanese language and social meaning
    Part I. The Notion of Nihongo
    1. Standard Japanese and its others: building the national language
    1.1 Standard Japanese: a building block in the making of modern Japan
    1.2 Representations of standard and regional Japanese in the media
    2. Standard and regional Japanese: diversity in attitudes and practice
    2.1 Diversity in attitudes toward standard and regional Japanese
    2.2 Meanings of standard and regional Japanese in practice: negotiating norms
    Part II. Japanese Honorifics and Japanese 'Politeness':
    3. Keigo: from official policy to popular pedagogy
    3.1 Institutional policy on honorific form and use: constructing the Japanese essence
    3.2 Keigo for the public: authoritative accounts by linguists
    3.3 Honorifics: popular pedagogy
    4. Keigo: diversity in attitudes and practice
    4.1 Diversity in attitudes toward honorifics
    4.2 Honorifics in practice: negotiating norms
    Part III. Japanese Language and Gender:
    5. Gendered Japanese: normative linguistic femininity and masculinity
    5.1 Dominant narratives of gendered Japanese: a historical perspective
    5.2 Media representations of gendered speech in contemporary Japan
    6. Gendered Japanese: diversity in attitudes and practice
    6.1 Diversity in attitude toward gendered speech
    6.2 Meanings of gendered speech in practice: negotiating norms
    Reflections: looking backward, looking forward.

  • Authors

    Shigeko Okamoto, University of California, Santa Cruz
    Shigeko Okamoto is a Professor in the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986. Her areas of research include sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics and functional grammar. She has published numerous articles on Japanese language and gender, honorifics, regional dialects, grammaticization and grammatical constructions. She is a co-editor of the volume Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology (with Janet S. Shibamoto-Smith, 2004). Her latest interest is in semiotic diversity and multiplicity and its relationship to language ideologies.

    Janet S. Shibamoto-Smith, University of California, Davis
    Janet S. Shibamoto-Smith is Professor Emerita in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis. She is a specialist in Japanese language, society and culture, with an emphasis on the interaction between ideology and practice. Publications include Japanese Women's Language (1985) and the edited volume Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology (with Shigeko Okamoto, 2004). Her latest long-time interest in language and gender has merged with studies of contemporary cultural models of femininity/masculinity and romantic love through textual analyses of popular print and televisual materials.

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