Japanese final particles are a gendered, optional linguistic feature that is added to a word in a sentence or to the end of a sentence to express subtle nuances commonly in the spoken language. In terms of frequency of use, final particles such as zo, ze, and na are strongly masculine, that is, they are used most frequently by male speakers whereas wa, no, and kasira are strongly feminine, that is, they are used most frequently by female speakers. There are also neutral ones such as kana and ne, which can be used by male or female speakers equally.
Final particles present complex semantic implications including the speaker’s gender, social status, personal background, levels of certainty, confidence, expectation, and doubt (Nagashima 1988, Chino 1991). These nuances vary significantly depending on the context and the intonation. However, in general, masculine final particles tend to be associated with confidence and assertion while feminine ones are likely to show mild assertion or to be used to soften the tone of a statement.
Analyzing manipulations of final particle usage reveals the underlying personal relationships and social hierarchy behind verbal exchange.
This study focuses on the use of Japanese sentence-final particles by Japanese gay males. I studied four short stories, including a four-frame cartoon series, from two major Japanese gay magazines, Bady and G-men. For each story, I analyzed the relation between the nature of the characters’ personal relationships and their self-expressions primarily by examining their final particle usage, but I also needed the context and other relevant linguistic cues such as the use of first-person pronouns, which are also gendered, as I consulted my native speaker knowledge.
Visual cues were also analyzed whenever illustrations were provided. In the magazines I examined, a gay male couple, as in romantic partners, tends to be made up of a partner who assumes a leading role and a partner who assumes a more passive role in the relationship. I hypothesized that in such a gay male couple, the * I would like to thank my first faculty reader Donna Jo Napoli and my student readers Katherine Koch and Rebecca Black for their encouragement, precise feedback, and valuable help in brainstorming and editing. Many thanks also go to my second faculty reader Ted Fernald.
I also appreciate all the comments I received from my seminar group at the beginning of the semester. Murakami 2 more active person would use masculine and strongly masculine final particles more often than the other. I also hypothesized that strongly masculine, masculine, and neutral final particles would be predominant among characters of all levels of masculinity or femininity in light of the general dislike in the Japanese gay community towards onee kotoba, or effeminate gay speech, that is associated with the negative stereotype about gay males commonly held by heterosexual Japanese (Lunsing 2003, Lunsing and Maree 2004).
1. Introduction The gender dualism concept has long led linguists and the general public alike in Japan to believe that men are supposed to speak in a “manly” manner and women are supposed to speak in a “womanly” manner. The first time that I realized I had internalized this concept as a native Japanese speaker was when I was tutoring American students in Japanese. These students had studied Japanese for a few years and had even studied abroad in Japan for a substantial period of time.
They spoke fluent Japanese with an almost perfect intonation but one thing that stood out to me was their occasional “improper” use of final particles. I found myself correcting them, offering comments like “You sound too boyish if you use this final particle in this context. ” Gender differences in speech are of paramount importance in a sociolinguistic discourse on many aspects of Japanese, especially so with final particles. Many of the final particles are gender labeled in terms of frequency of use by males and females.
Also, final particles are optional and used commonly in the spoken language to add intricate implications to the utterance such as the speaker’s gender, social status, personal background, levels of certainly, confidence, expectation, and doubt, as discussed in depth in 5. and 6. (Nagashima 1988, Chino 1991). Uyeno (1971: 5) mentions that final particles are “one of the least explored areas in Japanese. ” Peng (1981), Kawaguchi (1987) and Sakata (1991), for instance, studied the distribution of final particles by men and women but failed to delve into the subtle nuances of each final particle.
Only recently have researchers started to examine the subtle nature of final particle usage by females and males. Inoue (2006) engaged in a historical analysis of women’s Murakami 3 language and tracked the changes in the use of female final particles over time starting from the early 19th century. She conducted comparative corpus analyses of two Japanese classic works, Ukiyoburo from 1813 and Sansiroo from 1909. Ogawa (2006) examined the perception of gender differences in final particle usage by analyzing major Japanese dictionaries and conducting surveys among Japanese college students.
Mizumoto (2006) studied the discrepancies between the stereotypical female final particle usage observed in TV series and the actual usage by female speakers by analyzing scripts and natural conversations by women from different age groups. However, none of these previous studies examined the final particle usage by sexual minorities. As Okamoto and Smith (2004) point out, in Japanese linguistics, the speech of the “idealized” heterosexual Japanese woman and man has been the center of scholastic interest, and thus, the speech of “real” Japanese women and men in “real” verbal interactions was hardly given the attention it deserved.
This led to the marginalization of those who do not speak the idealized standard Japanese. An often forgotten but significant example of these marginalized speakers is sexual minorities who do not fall into the binary gender categorization. In this study, I examined final particle usage among Japanese gay males as represented in two bestselling Japanese gay magazines, Bady and G-men, which are targeted at distinct types of readers. Bady caters to general gay male readers and G-men caters to the super-masculine type and gay men who feel attracted to this type of men.
I selected a total of four stories, three from Bady and one from G-men, so that I had a sample of verbal interactions between characters of various degrees of masculinity or femininity. I examined how the nature of characters’ verbal interactions and the power relations present in their relationships are reflected in final particle usage. In the two Japanese gay magazines I studied, a couple, as in romantic partners, tends to consist of a person who takes a leading role in the relationship and a person who follows him.
My hypothesis was that the more active one would use masculine and strongly masculine final Murakami 4 particles more frequently than the more passive one. Moreover, as Lunsing (2003) and Lunsing and Maree (2004) point out, the dislike towards onee kotoba, or effeminate gay speech, is ingrained in the Japanese gay community because of the negative stereotype about gay males commonly held by heterosexual Japanese. Therefore, I also hypothesized that masculine, strongly masculine and neutral final particles would be predominant among characters of all levels of masculinity or femininity.
One concern here is that the language use found in these bestselling magazines is unlikely to be a true representation of how “real” Japanese gay males speak in “real” verbal interactions. These magazines are so designed that they are appealing and pleasant to mainstream gay readers. Therefore, it can be the case that I analyzed “idealized” gay male speech just as many previous linguistic studies looked at “idealized” speech by focusing solely on the heterosexual speaker. However, I could not obtain a magazine specifically for often marginalized effeminate gay men nor did I have enough access to the Japanese gay community here in the US.
I expected the great readership that these magazines boast of to compensate for these shortcomings to some extent. Also, examining possibly “idealized” gay male speech is interesting and important in and of itself. Although it may not represent “real” speech by “real” gay males, final particle usage seen in the magazines demonstrates something about certain ideals or stereotypes about Japanese gay males. I begin by providing a brief historical background of the Japanese sociolinguistic approach to speech and gender and turn to the discussion of
the newly emerging definition of masculinity in Japan. I then examine how Japanese gay males are perceived in heteronormative Japanese society and how that influences their linguistic performance. In continuation, I examine the semantic implications of the final particles that I observed in the selected stories and I conclude the study with an overall analysis of my observations about how characters express themselves and interact verbally through the manipulation of final particles. Murakami 5 2. Japanese Language and Gender in Historical Contexts
The essentialist gender dualism concept was predominant in sociolinguistics until the 1990’s when Eckert and McConnel-Ginet (1992) proposed a new approach to gender in language use. They questioned the essentialist approach to gender and started to highlight the importance of understanding gender as a sociocultural construct rather than a predetermined, biological product in discussing the relation between gender and speech. Japanese sociolinguistics is no exception from this binary gender ideology. This situation manifests itself most clearly in the Japanese ideology of onna kotoba ‘women’s language’ and otoko kotoba ‘men’s language.
’ The cultural category of women’s language emerged in the late 19th century when the Japanese government launched a program to “nationalize” women in the context of Japan’s early modernization (Inoue 2004). As Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (2003) argue, though, these artificial efforts to create “women’s language” indicate that “women’s language” is indeed not a timeless, essential representation of women’s nature. 2. 1. Women’s Language and Nationalism “The construction of standard languages is intimately tied to the formation of nation states.
And just as the gender dichotomy is constructed through the erasure of differences among women and among men and the emphasis of differences between women and men, the nation state is constructed through the erasure of history of differences among the population included in it and emphasizing differences between that population and others” (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003: 278). The Japanese government actively engaged in the manipulation of the state of kokugo ‘the national language’ two times in history, both in nationalistic contexts.
The first was during the language modernization movement gembun’itchi ‘unifying speech and writing’ that took place between the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). This literary movement caused a shift away from the use of Chinese characters and the Chinese-influenced esoteric prose in the transcription of colloquial language to a Westernized narrative style as found in the Western realist novel; the Japanese literary circle and the Japanese Murakami 6 government alike regarded the Western realist novel as the model for colloquial written Japanese (Twine 1991).
Japan was torn between nationalism and modernization. Being at war with Russia and China, Japan needed to maintain its national integrity but the economic opportunity represented by the West was hard to pass up at the same time. Japan managed to accomplish both by appealing to the Confucianism philosophy that reinforced a family structure where the patriarchal ideal “enlisted the cooperation of women as well as men, elevating a woman’s role as wife, mother and homemaker” (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003: 279).
Women gradually became incorporated into male-centered Japan as a national and social issue, and so did their language. In the context of language standardization, essential in unifying the nation and propelling the modernization, women were constantly exposed to the male gaze, socially and linguistically. As Inoue (2004: 63) notes, “it is this linguistic space, a quoted space, objectified, reified, and re-presented by the imbricated gaze of the male, the national, and the modern, that ‘women’s language’ was pieced together.
” Later, during the World War II era, the state made a nationalistic effort to underscore the beauty and uniqueness of the national language, and above all, to claim the preservation of what it regarded as the unparalleled nature of humble and elegant Japanese women and their graceful language. Kindaichi, a leading Japanese linguist of the time, wrote “It is now being noted that the way of Japanese women is beautiful and superb, standing out from the ways throughout the world.
Related to the way of Japanese women, Japanese women’s language also seems to be a rare phenomenon in the world” (Yukawa and Saito 2004: 24, see also Kindaichi 1942). As Washi (2004) points out, in the 1930’s, the speech of women in such media sources as radio, newspapers, and magazines started to draw criticism and national language scholars, linguists and commentators engaged in the reevaluation of what speech style was to be adopted by women.
Washi (2004: 79) cites an article in Tokyo Asahi Shinbum, a major newspaper in Japan, published in 1938, that was titled Onna wa onna-rashiku – keigo o wasureru na ‘Ladies should be Murakami 7 ladylike – don’t forget your honorifics. ’ In 1941, the Ministry of Education released Reehoo yookoo ‘Essentials of etiquette’ that included a guideline on proper language use for females and males. It was originally a textbook for secondary schools (boys’ middle schools, girls’ high schools and technical schools) but it came to be used as a manual for the education of the nation.
Reehoo yookoo kaisetsu ‘Commentary on the essentials of etiquette’ published in the same year stated “men should generally use masculine language, while women should use feminine language,” indicating that women should use more polite and humbler expressions than men (I briefly discuss women’s language and politeness in the next section). This language control administered by the Japanese government not only solidified the idea of women’s language but also forced women to subjugate themselves under and reinforce the male normative sociocultural construct that operated under the ideology of ryoosai kembo ‘a good wife and wise mother.
’ 2. 2 Women’s Language and Politeness in Japanese “One of the most commonly noted gender differences in Japanese is that women generally speak more politely than men” (Okamoto 2004: 40, see also Ogino, Misono and Fukushima 1985, Niyekawa 1991, Smith 1992, Kawanari 1993, and Shigemitsu 1993). This is to say that women, in comparison with men, speak softly and respectfully and do not speak in an assertive manner but in a way that asks for agreement of the listener (Usami 2006). Also, women cannot be considered polite enough if they speak only as politely as men.
Women have to use a more polite linguistic form than men to show the same level of politeness (Ide 1990). 2. 2. 1 Honorifics and Women’s Language Okamoto (2004: 40) mentions that although there are a number of linguistic features in Japanese that add to politeness such as “honorifics, indirect speech acts, hedges, reactive tokens and sentence-final particles,” honorifics are the most important. The basic nature of Japanese honorifics is best summarized by Ecknert and McConnell-Ginet (2003: 164-165): Murakami 8
“Marking social status is tightly integrated into the grammar of Japanese, and showing respect or deference is a central component of so-called women’s language in Japanese. Through its complex system of honorifics, the Japanese language constrains speakers to signal hierarchical social relations in a variety of places in their utterances, not only when using second-person pronouns or other address forms. The honorific system encodes relations among participants, both present and absent, in the discourse situations – that is, among the speaker, the addressee, and those spoken of.
In a discourse situation that includes only the speaker and the addressee, speakers who wish to signal respect or deference to their addressees may use a respect form to refer to the addressees or things and actions associated with the addressees, raising the addressees with respect to themselves; or they may use a humble form to refer to things and actions associated with themselves, lowering themselves in relation to the addressees. It is also possible to choose a neutral form to avoid such raising of the other and lowering of the self.
” The “correct” use of honorifics to express politeness has been emphasized through various means, especially through education and media (Okamoto 2004). The system of Japanese honorifics is complicated. Even native speakers can make mistakes occasionally and it is necessary that one study to acquire the proper usage of honorifics. For instance, Kokugo-shingikai, a Japanese government council on the national language, recommends in its 1996 report that schools continue to strive to teach children appropriate honorifics.
There have also been myriads of books, magazines articles, and other materials for adults about how to use honorifics “correctly. ” These observations suggest that proper use of honorifics can be considered to be a prestige factor that indicates the speaker’s class status, education and intelligence, and that it is not simply acquired (Okamoto 2004). Therefore, politeness and honorifics are important for both women and men. Nonetheless, the degree of politeness expected differs by sex, as mentioned earlier.
“It is commonly claimed that Japanese women tend to use more honorifics and formal expressions than men, thereby making their speech more polite than men’s” (Okamoto 2004: 40, see also Ogino, Misono, and Fukushima 1985, Ide 1990, Niyekawa 1991, and Kawanari 1993). Okamoto (2004: 41) points out that “media, as well as education at home and school, seem to play an important role in promoting this idea. ” Numerous how-to books and magazine articles have been published Murakami 9 specifically for women.
Okamoto (2004: 41) cites an excerpt from a typical self-help book for women by a female author, Tanaka (1986: 29-33), titled Kashikoi hito ni narinasai: Utsukushiku ikitai anata ni ‘Be a wise woman; To you who want to live beautifully’: “It is often said that young women nowadays – whether they are students or working women – cannot use honorifics well…I sometime hear female teachers use the same language as male teachers…Even in a democratic society, it’s natural that there are differences in ways of talking based on sex differences, because men and women have different vocal codes…But women dare use men’s language.
Are they ignorant or lazy, or are they making foolish efforts not to be dominated by men?… Not knowing honorifics is embarrassing. Parents and teachers should teach that [to children] by showing good models…Even today…when I see such people [people who use proper and polite language], I’m impressed by their good upbringings (Translated from the Japanese original). ” These observations suggest that “the notion that women’s attractiveness depends on their appearance (beauty), which is partly determined by their good upbringings and education, including knowledge of honorifics,” is commonly held by the Japanese society (Okamoto 2004: 42).
When men speak politely, their politeness is also perceived as elegance. However, even when men do not choose polite speech, that is considered to be a sign of friendliness rather than rudeness because of their higher social status than women (Usami 2006). The situation with women is different. Japanese women have been educated and expected by the society to speak politely, and deviating from it is simply regarded as lack of education and sophistication (Usami 2006).
Japanese women can be considered to be trapped in a vicious circle that self-sustains their submissive status to men. In order to compensate for their relatively low social status, many Japanese women make extra efforts to acquire polite speech including the proper use of honorifics. Here, it is worth mentioning that how-to books on the “correct” use of honorifics are written mostly by women, which indicates the high level of women’s self-consciousness about their politeness.
Polite speech may help women gain a positive social evaluation (e. g. educated, elegant, high class, reserved). Nonetheless, polite speech by definition serves to constantly Murakami 10 remind its users and the society of the subordinate status of its users. 3. Shift in the Definition of Masculinity in Japan The definition of masculinity for Japanese has undergone drastic changes over time and is totally distinct from the image of masculinity commonly shared by Westerners.
This change has been propelled initially by a shift in the nature of female desire towards male bodies and by what Miller (2003) calls oyaji-rejection ‘rejection of old men,’ or the general resistance of young Japanese to the ‘salaryman’ folk model. During the first decades of the post-war era, women and men alike considered the man of “pure action and sincerity” to be attractive because that meant “his dedication to family, community and emperor” (Miller 2003: 53). Also,
to many women at the time, physical beauty of men carried less importance than economic stability that men could offer them (Miller 2003). However, such traditional masculine values represented by oyaji are no longer admired by young Japanese. Young Japanese today tend to think of oyaji as “de-eroticized by a corporate culture that emphasized a ‘productivity ideology of standardization, order, control, rationality and impersonality’” (McVeigh 2000: 16) and it is young women who have been leading this tendency (Miller 2003).
In fact, the three criteria that women looked for in men before dating or marrying them in the late 1980’s were the three H’s “high salary, high educational credentials, high physical stature,” which have been taken over by the current three C’s “comfortable, communicative and cooperative” (Miller 2003: 54). Furthermore, Japanese women now have a more critical eye about the physical appearance of men as a sexual object (Miller 2003). This new female desire has compelled Japanese heterosexual men to alter their views on masculinity.
They can no longer adhere to the traditional male centered ideology. In order to appeal to women today, men need to know what women expect of them as possible partners. This oyaji-rejection phenomenon led young Japanese, especially heterosexuals, to the aspiration for smooth bodies represented by hairlessness. The attitudes towards body hair have Murakami 11 drastically changed since the postwar era. “From the 1950’s until the 1970’s, a new masculine ideal was promoted through bewhiskered or bushy Western movie starts such as Sean Connery and Charles Bronson.
But a male desire to depilate began in the late 1980’s, and chest hair ceased being a symbol of masculinity… Some men want to rid their bodies not only of chest hair, but of leg, armpit and arm hair as well” (Miller 2003: 41) It has to be noted, though, that hair on the head is exceptional. As pointed out by Miller (2003), many young Japanese have positive attitudes towards long hair but dislike baldness. For many Japanese young people, traditional unsmooth masculine bodies are directly linked with the patriarchal values that are associated with the
aforementioned negative connotations of the oyaji model discussed by McVeigh (2000). Many Japanese young men and women find the oyaji body image to be sexually unattractive. For Japanese women, this change in sexual desire is an embodiment of a rejection of male centeredness represented by the traditional values, thus a claim for sexual independence (Miller 2003). Responding to the new female desire and rejecting the stigmatized oyaji values, young Japanese men, in turn, are not hesitant about investing in beauty work on their bodies; many of them strive to achieve the socially desired body that is a new symbol of masculinity.
As Miller (2003: 51) writes, “for upward-hustling Japanese men, having the right look – the right hair, face, skin and clothes – means that one has both the sensitivities to recognize this new aesthetic and also the time and resources to achieve the socially desired body for compulsory heterosexual marriage. ” 4. Gay Males in Current Heteronormative Japanese Society In Japan, homosexual activities were not regarded as peculiar as in many Western countries until Meiji Restoration in 1868 (Valentine 1997).
“Although males who had sexual relations with other males were not normally identified in terms of their sexuality, younger males were often conceived in terms of gender marginality: not woman, but not men either” (Valentine 1997:97). Eroticism between males was acknowledged, though, and was called nansyoku, literary meaning ‘male color’; ‘color’ in Japanese is related to sexual desire (Valentine 1997). The Murakami 12 negative labeling of homosexuality arrived together with the Western concepts that reached Japan during Meiji Restoration. For Japan, modernization meant Westernization that represented “civilization.
” Not only technological, legal, and political apparatus, but also Western concepts were adopted; including concepts of sexuality (Valentine 1997). Western conceptions of sexuality required that ambiguous eroticism between males be defined in terms of sexuality rather than gender. Japanese culture always kept sexuality “unspecified” and never discussed it without the veil of gender identity (Valentine 1997: 98). Once these Western concepts were introduced, eroticism between males was seen in terms of sexuality and then was considered to be gender transgression, that is homosexuality.
For this reason, many Japanese heterosexuals today regard homosexuality as foreign; in fact, a lesbian friend from Haverford who studied in Japan told me that her host mother explained to her with confidence that they were no homosexual people in Japan. As Valentine (1997) observes, it is insiders who are marginalized as foreign, rather than outsiders marginalized, who are perceived to be peculiar within an insider context; homosexuals in Japan clearly fit the criteria for the former. I cite a passage below that depicts a sad but accurate description of how homosexuals are perceived in Japan today.
“In the contemporary Japanese social context, with its widespread conflation of heterosexual desire with gender and its idealization of heterosexual romantic love, homosexuality is implicated as trivial and abnormal and is often greeted with the phrase kimochiwarui ‘sickening’… Furthermore, jooshiki ‘common sense’…deems heterosexual marriage as the natural way to live and by implication denaturalizes rational possibilities other than heterosexuality…Homosexuality, thus, is regarded as hentai…‘perverse’…” (Lunsing and Maree 2004: 93).
Also, the conceptualization of inter-male eroticism as gender transgression has resulted in a skewed view among Japanese heterosexuals that regards gay males as men who attempt to be women but keep failing (Valentine 1997). However, the reality is that gay men do not necessarily have the attributes that are typically associated with womanliness nor is homosexuality often transgendered (Lunsing 2003, Lunsing and Maree 2004). In fact, the overwhelming majority of Murakami 13 gay owners of gay bars dress in a way commonly considered to be masculine (Lunsing 2003, Lunsing and Maree 2004).
Moreover, as Lunsing (2003) and Lunsing and Maree (2004) explain, there is strong resistance among many Japanese gay men to the general confusion between the transgendered population and homosexuals. In this context, onee-type men or ‘effeminate gay’ men are often looked down upon by “straight-acting” gay men. Onee-type men tend to use onee kotoba ‘older sister’s speech’ that is typically accompanied by intonations and gestures commonly regarded as feminine. Onee kotoba, however, is not only effeminate but it is also marked by its unique vulgarity.
I look more deeply into onee kotoba in 6. 1. 2. 2. 2. 4. 1. Japanese Gay Males and their Ideal Masculinity Japanese gay men’s strong preference for self-identification with the masculine man over the effeminate man is also reflected in the portrayal of the male body in the popular gay magazines, Bady and G-men. I examined all the 44 stories featured in September, October, and November 2007 issues of Badi but I found onee kotoba employed only in one story ( in the November issue) and in one four-frame cartoon series (by the same author, carried in all three issues).
On the other hand, masculine figures with shaved heads, beards, or unshaved legs and eyebrows were spotted throughout the pages. G-men characterizes itself by its marked emphasis on super-manliness that is often represented by sexual aggressiveness and physical appearance involving shaved heads, moustaches, beards, jeans, leather jackets or Japanese traditional loincloth. This concept of ideal masculinity among gay males is interesting in contrast to the general ideal masculinity model discussed in 3.
There do not seem to be as many Japanese gay men seeking the smooth body in their partners as there are Japanese women. Especially, the presentation of the male body in G-men shows that the super-macho type almost rejects the general Japanese masculinity ideal by strictly adhering to the traditional masculinity model. As I mentioned on various occasions, Japanese gay men generally expect themselves to be depicted as masculine in an attempt to resist the negative effeminate stereotype held by the Murakami 14 Japanese society. However, many Japanese gay men do not behave accordingly (Lunsing 2004).
For example, many, in fact, do use onee kotoba on certain occasions (i. e. when being sarcastic), if not constantly, and the use of onee kotoba is usually accompanied by intonation contours and gestures that can be regarded as flamboyant (Lunsing 2004). This discrepancy between the reality of Japanese gay men and what they aspire to be indicates the presence of internalized homophobia within many Japanese gay males. Lunsing (2004: 96) cites an interesting example that demonstrates this internalized homophobia among Japanese gay males.
In 1991, a documantary film Rasen no sobyoo ‘Rough sketch of a spiral’ was released. In the film, one of the gay partners assumes the woman’s role including the use of onee kotoba and the other partner assumes the man’s role and uses masculine speech. The depiction of the gay partners was a true representation of an actual relationship between two gay men. Nonetheless, the film was met with criticism from the Japanese gay community that the relationship merely mimicked a typical heterosexual relationship and that such a depiction of the gay relationship ruined the entire film.
In light of the internalized homophobia, I understand that my corpus analysis of the bestselling gay magazines might not be truly representative of “real” speech by “real” Japanese gay men. In any case, I analyzed the possibly “idealized” speech favored by the majority of Japanese gay males or at least by the Japanese paper media targeted at gay male audience. From what I observed, I strove to draw in-depth analyses in light of all that has been discussed so far. 5. Semantic Implications of Final Particles In this section, I examine the semantic implications of important final particles I observed in the four stories I analyzed.
I explore the semantic implications of final particles in different environments. It is worth noting here that “proper” final particle usage is not simply acquired, especially for female speakers, just as people need to actively learn how to use honorifics “properly” as discussed in 2. 2. 1 (Peng 1981). Peng (1981) touches upon this by citing Murakami 15 examples of mothers having to correct their school-age daughters’ “masculine” final particle usage. Please note that it is not the main interest of this study to provide a full-
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