Key Note Speaker
Satoshi Kinsui, Professor
Graduate School of Letters
‘Role language’ refers to sets of speech features that are closely related to the speakers’ personal images. Consider the utterance ‘I know (that matter)’: there are cases in which ‘washi ga shit-teoru-no-ja’ is associated with an elderly man, whereas ‘watakushi ga zonji-teorimasu-wa’ is associated with a noble lady. ‘Role language’ can be considered a type of linguistic ‘stereotype’. It is sometimes based on speech features in reality, but it could also be totally unrelated to real speakers (e.g. aliens’ and robots’ speech, the choppy speech of ‘American Indians’, etc.)
The concept of ‘role language’ was first coined by Kinsui (2000). Through Kinsui (2003), the concept became broadly known to general audiences, which was followed by the publication of collected papers (see Kinsui 2007, 2011). Moreover, Sadanobu (2011) coined personal image ‘character’ in role language studies and increased the precision of the concept.
The research of ‘role language’ is essentially interdisciplinary. Apart from syntax, lexicology, phonology, semantics, pragmatics, etc. which take internal views of language and form the core of the discipline, various adjacent areas, e.g., dialect studies, history, literature, sociology, developmental psychology, popular culture studies, etc., also have strong relationships with role language research. Researchers with diverse backgrounds have thus shown interest and promoted collaborative research. Unique studies include Kinsui (2007), which explores the history of ‘aruyo’ language as a stereotype of Chinese people from the language contact history at the end of Edo Era, Tanaka’s proposal (2011) of the concept of ‘virtual dialect’ in the role language sense, etc. Based on collaboration with psycholinguists, developmental psychology research on the acquisition of role language knowledge is advancing. The area of comparative studies is also remarkable. Studies comparing English, German, Korean, Chinese, etc. centred on role language are making progress which is believed to contribute to a higher standard of translation quality.
Another feature of role language research is its easiness of joining with applied studies. Onzuka (2011) analyses role language in Korean Japanese textbooks, and explains the need to involve role language properly in Japanese teaching, which is also attempted in translation instructions.
Role language research is a young area, with its concept evolved only a few decades ago. However, it has broad applications and the ability to attract a great number of researchers. In the future, researchers with different backgrounds are still encouraged to join this area.
Onzuka, C. (2011) Kankoku no kyōkasho ni okeru yakuwarigo no yakuwari: ‘ikita Nihongo’ o oshieru vācharu rieriti. In S. Kinsui (ed.) Yakuwarigo Kenkyū no Tenkai. Tokyo: Kurosio.
Kinsui, S. (2000) Yakuwarigo kenkyū e no sasoi. Kokugo Kenkyū, 8, 311-351. Tokyo: Meiji Shoin.
Kinsui, S. (2003) Vācharu Nihongo Yakuwarigo no Nazo. Tokyo: Iwanami.
Kinsui, S. (2011) Yakuwarigo toshite no pijin nihongo no rekishi sobyō. In S. Kinsui (ed.) Yakuwarigo Kenkyū no Tenkai. Tokyo: Kurosio.
Kinsui, S. (ed.) (2007) Yakuwarigo Kenkyū no Chihei. Tokyo: Kurosio.
Kinsui, S. (ed.) (2011) Yakuwarigo Kenkyū no Tenkai. Tokyo: Kurosio.
Sadanobu, T. (2011) Nihongo Shakai Nozoki Kyarakuri: Kaotsuki Karadatsuki Kotobatsuki. Tokyo: Sanseido.
Tanaka, Y. (2011) ‘Hōgen Kosupure’ noJidai: Nise Kansaiben kara Ryōma-go made. Tokyo: Iwanami.
English there be construction and corresponding Japanese expressions: an analysis using bi-directional parallel corpus
Yoko Niimi, Language Instructor
Erciyes University, Turkey
English there be construction can be translated into Japanese sentence whose main verb is different from English be in respect of lexical aspect. For example, Japanese translation of (1a) is (1b) although (1c) is also grammatically correct.
(1) a. At this moment there was a tremendous uproar.
b. Choudo kono toki ni, monosugoi sawagi ga okita.
Just this time-at, tremendous uproar-Nom happen-Past.
“At this moment, a tremendous uproar occured.”
c. Choudo kono toki ni, monosugoi sawagi ga atta.
Just this time-at, tremendous uproar-Nom be-Past.
“At this moemnt, there was a tremendous uproar.”
The main verb of (1a) is was and it is a state verb. On the other hand, the main verb of (1b), okita (happen-Past), is an achievement verb. Granted that original text and its translation describe same event in different languages, Japanese prefer to describe the event with achievement verb when English describe the same event with state verb. Not only the case of “there be + Event Noun” patterns, but also “there be + Common Noun” patterns would be translated into Japanese with main verb of different lexical aspect. Natural translation of English sentence (2a) would be (2b), not (2c).
(2) a. Ah, there’s the porter.
b. aa, akabou ga kita.
Ah, porter-Nom come-Past.
“Ah, the porter came.”
c. aa, akabou ga iru.
Ah, porter-Nom be-Present.
“Ah, there’s the porter” or “Ah the porter is there.”
Main verbs used in (1b) and (2b) are achievement verb and they describe process while English main verb is state verb which describes static existence. This aspectual difference can be regarded as a result of difference between result-focused expression of English and process-focused expression of Japanese.
Previous English and Japanese comparative studies have led to the general conclusion that English favors result-focused expression while Japanese tends to choose process-focused expression. Examples like (1) and (2) support the previous studies. However the previous studies had based on sentence level comparison and thus lacked the examination beyond sentence level such as discourse level. Besides, most of them had used translations of one direction. It had been presumably due to the lack of available empirical data for comparison. In the emergence and development of corpus linguistics, parallel corpus attracts much attention because it provides comparative linguistics with a much more solid empirical basis than before. In this paper, parallel corpus is used to refer to ‘corpus containing Source Text and Target Text pairs’ (Malmkjaer 1998: 539). When using source texts and its translations for comparative research, it is undeniable that translated text is influenced by language of source text. In order to obtain examples while controlling the influence of translation, English and Japanese bi-directional parallel corpus had been constructed for this study. Bi-directional parallel corpus makes it possible to check against original and translated texts in the same language (Johannsson 1998). The corpus consists of 4 English novels with their Japanese translations and 4 Japanese novels with their English translations. The total size of the corpus is about 512,000 words (English original texts plus English translation texts) and 1,426,000 characters (Japanese original texts plus Japanese translation texts).
This study tries to show and under what conditions Japanese favors result-focused expression or process-focused expression to describe an event which English chooses there be construction to describe. Examples are retrieved from originally constructed English and Japanese bi-directional parallel corpus. It investigates the discourse environment, the viewpoint of narrative, compliment noun types of there be construction, and the translation direction of the pairs like (1) and (2). The same method could be applied to comparative studies of other languages. Finally it draws conclusions for comparative studies, corpus linguistics, and language teaching.
Johansson, Stig. 1998. On the role of corpora in cross-linguistic research. In S. Johansson and S. Oksefjell (eds). 1998. Corpora and cross-linguistic research: Theory, method, and case studies. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 3-24.
Kunihiro, Tetsuya. 1985. [In Japanese] Ninchi to gengo katsudou. Gengo Kenkyu. 88. Tokyo: 1-19.
Malmkjaer, Kirsten. 1998. Love thy Neighbour: Will Parallel Corpora Endear Linguists to Translators? In S. Laviosa (ed.) L’approche basée sur corpus/The Corpus-based Approach: 534-541.
 (1a) and (1b) are taken from George Orwell’s Animal Farm and published Japanese translation. (1c) is a translation by the author of this paper.
 (2a) and (2b) are examples from Kunihiro (1985). (2c) is a translation by the author of this paper.
 Since Japanese text is not written with a space, word count requires morphological analyzing whose result depends on the dictionary. To avoid the instability of morphological analyzing result, we used character count for Japanese texts here.
A Sociolinguistic study of digital communication among the elderly in Japan: Comparison of blog posts by older and younger Japanese
Yukiko Nishimura, Professor
Department of International Communication
Toyo Gakuen University, Japan
This sociolinguistic study aims to explore (1) linguistic, stylistic, and discourse features that characterise blog posts by Japanese seniors, (2) how identities are manifested socio-culturally in relation to ageing and gender, and (3) broadly the impact of recent innovations in digital communication on a rapidly aging population in Japan. A number of sociolinguistic studies have investigated youths’ communicative behaviours online and offline. Though much attention has been given to youth behaviours, only a few studies have discussed elderly speakers’ interactional behaviours (e.g. Coupland et al 1991). Matsumoto (2011) studied Japanese elderly women’s natural conversation offline, but little has been said regarding senior citizens’ online behaviours. Since researchers should not exclude this social group, who outnumbers working adults due to rapid demographic changes, ageing is definitely “a future priority for sociolinguistics” (Coupland 2004: 83). Addressing this research agenda and responding to the expansion of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to include various social groups, this study attempts to investigate blog posts by older Japanese and compare them with blog posts by younger Japanese to reveal how seniors experience and express ageing, gender, and technology. The study is expected to shed light on “digital seniors” (Nagao 2011), who are much talked about in contemporary Japan, but are understudied from a linguistic perspective.
The dataset comes from online diaries on a huge ranking, linking, and aggregation site, Nihon Burogu Mura, or Japan Blog Village (http://www.blogmura.com/). This site offers over 120 major categories, including “senior blogs,” a category from which have been selected the journals of the top 50 most popular male and female senior bloggers. Another category, “miscellaneous everyday blogs,” offers age and gender differentiated subcategories, and the diaries of the top 50 most popular male and female bloggers in their 20s and 30s are collected for comparison. These categories are chosen to avoid over-representation of specific groups (for example, housewives). This results in four subsets in the data: older men, older women, younger men and younger women. Approximately 25 days of posts from each blogger were collected for analysis in spring and summer 2012. The length of each blog post varies considerably from one author to another. The study combines quantitative and qualitative analytic methods. On the one hand, it employs a corpus stylistic approach to identify linguistic features. On the other hand, it employs a discourse analytic approach to examine prominent features in posts that may reveal conceptualisations on gender, ageing and technology.
Preliminary analyses of blog posts reveal linguistic and stylistic differences in lexical choices and degree of formality across the generations, which is consistent with the stereotypical perception of ageing. However, qualitative analyses of senior blogs reveal that many authors are against ageing ideologies but conform to gender ideologies. Another observation is that while photographs appear abundantly in both generations’ posts, seniors scarcely employ visual elements embedded in texts, such as emoticons, and rather tend to prefer richer, longer textual descriptions. Posts by younger bloggers are generally shorter, with more emoticons, especially among young women. While the posts of younger bloggers often indicate that they were made from smart phones, seniors rarely engage in mobile blogging. Some seniors mention the benefit of connecting to others through blogging, but this is all but absent among the younger generation. These observations imply seniors, who are digital non-natives and latecomers, are in the process of learning to use digital technologies. One might speculate that seniors do not feel the necessity for emoticons, because they can accomplish their purpose of expressing themselves and connecting to others without this extra decoration, though emoticons can index young women’s gender identity. As a tool for connecting to the world, the Internet is increasingly important for Japan’s ageing population, which could face isolation and a deteriorating quality of life. This study illuminates how digital seniors experience ageing, gender, and technology in comparison with youth in Japan today from a sociolinguistic perspective.
Coupland, N. 2004. Age in social and sociolinguistic theory. In Handbook of communication and Aging Research, 2nd ed. J. F. Nussbaum and J. Coupland, eds. 69-90. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Coupland, N., J. Coupland, and H. Giles. 1991. Language, society, and the elderly: Discourse, identity, and ageing. Oxford: Blackwell.
Matsumoto, Y. 2011. Beyond stereotypes of old age: The discourse of elderly Japanese women. In Y. Matsumoto ed. Faces of aging: The lived experiences of the elderly in Japan. 194-219. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Nagao, Y. 2011. Dejitaru shinia jidai no tourai—intaanetto no shintou to shinia sou no henka [Arrival of digital senior age: Internet penetration and change among seniors]. In Y. Hashimoto ed. Nihonjin no jouhou koudou 2010 [Information behavior of the Japanese people 2010]. 315-329. Tokyo: The University of Tokyo Press.
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