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Gender Differences In The Japanese Language

1704 words - 7 pages

In Japan, men and women speck differently. The Japanese language has gender difference that is still prevalent in modern Japan even though it has grown less and less clear in polite conversation. Women in modern Japan do speak m ore politely compare to men. The Japanese language feature elements that make women’s speech sound polite and feminine. Meanwhile, men’s speech sound less polite and masculine. The language difference between genders reinforces Japanese social norms and this examined in particular to the Japanese marriage relationships. Surveys of the current trends show the deterioration of Japanese marriage relationships.

The Japanese language features unique characteristics that women’s speck differ from men’s. Differences in first and second personal pronouns is one the characteristics that make women’s speech sound polite and feminine compare to men’s speech. Women are required to use more formal from as anata is formal for men but plain or formal for women (Ide, 1990). In men’s speech, there are other set of first and second person pronouns (boku, kimi, among others). This means that women have less first and second person pronouns and thus, use more formal patterns than male speech. Further, there are no deprecatory words in women’s speech in the first or second person pronoun compared to men’s speech (Ide, 1990). Men’s speech has deprecatory words of ore, omae, kisama, and others. There are no deprecatory words in women’s speech. This means men’s speech is less polite sounding making it more masculine.

Another characteristic is the differences in sentence final particles. Some women’s speech feature final particles such as wa, kasira, and no as a softener to create an atmosphere of sharing or politeness (Ide, 1990). On the other hand, some sentence final particle in men’s speech feature zo, ze, and na that express aggression or authority (Streetharan, 2004). The differences in sentence final particles clearly reflects gender norm of the society. Other characteristic of men’s speech compare to women’s speech is the use of less pitch variation, fewer back channels, and tag questions. An example of women’s speech with pitch is burikko characterize by high-pitched, nasal voice which slides through pitch ranges along with cute mannerism and baby talk (Miller, 2004). Sometimes burikko is use to appeal to men to gain attention like a child and in other times be perceived as innocent. Another example, the usage of the prefix o-, in o-mise, functions to beautify the intended word. Women use higher forms expressed with beautification or hypercorrect honorifics, to show higher social class than they actually belong (Ide, 1990). The reason is that women’s society, especially housewives, functions mainly in the home and sociable settings where there is less distinction in status of out and in groups.

These unique gender characteristics in the Japanese language show a lower social status for women. Japanese traditional...

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