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JALT National Conference featured and Plenary Speakers

Plenary Speaker, Momoko Nakamura (中村桃子): Gender Construction in Japanese Translation


This paper explores the inter-lingual process of gender construction by analyzing the employment of gendered styles in Japanese translation. In globalization, more studies are required to examine intersections of gender beyond language boundaries (Bloomaert 2010; Bucholtz & Hall 2004; Cameron 2000). Drawing on a set of linguistic features associated with femininity and masculinity in Japanese, I investigate how Japanese translators use the gendered features in translating the speech of non-Japanese women and men (Inoue 2003; Shibamoto Smith 2004). The data consists of the translated speech in English and Russian literary works, TV dramas, films and newspaper interview articles. Based on the methodology of discourse analysis, I examine the occurrences of feminine and masculine features in the wide range of media discourse (Nakamura 2013). The analysis shows: 1) Japanese translators overwhelmingly use feminine features in translating non-Japanese women’s speech, and 2) while they also employ masculine features in translating non-Japanese men’s speech, with respect to the casual, laid-back speech of non-Japanese men, they have created a specific Japanese style used only in the translation of the speech. The findings suggest: 1) the predominant use of feminine features for the speech of non-Japanese women works to naturalize Japanese femininity beyond linguistic and ethnic boundaries, and 2) the invention of the style for non-Japanese men serves to enregister the Japanese stereotype of non-Japanese casual masculinity, depending on which Japanese masculinity maintains its idealized status. In sum, this paper contributes to elucidating the inter-lingual intersections of gender construction.

Additional Session: Normalization and Simplification of Japanese Youth Style

This paper examines how a newly emerging youth speech style is normalized and simplified in media discourse (Buchotlz 2009; Kiesling 2004). Sociolinguistic styles not only indexically derive a variety of stances in interactions, but also can be bound to particular social groups (Agha 2007; Coupland 2007; Eckert 2008). This paper contributes to the growing interests in the relationship between stance, style, and identity by examining the Japanese youth style characterized by su, the shortened form of a polite copular desu, both in local interaction and in media. The data consists of thirty-minute video-recorded conversations of male college students, responses to a posting about su at an online blog of a nation-wide newspaper, and three TV commercials. The analyses of three sets of data show that: 1) the major function of su in conversation is to index the stance of polite solidarity (Hasegawa 2006), 2) 92% of 336 responses denies the politeness of su, claiming that su does not constitute the “correct” Japanese and that it is found only in the speech of “uneducated” men, and 3) the characters who speak with su in TV commercials are male athletes or impolite men who ignore traditional hierarchy. The findings suggest that the polite but intimate stance of su in local interactions is normalized by the blog respondents according to their norms of correct Japanese and, both respondents and media creators simplify the indexicality of su by associating it with specific groups of men.

Momoko Nakamura (中村桃子) is Professor of English at Kanto Gakuin University. Her recent publications include Gender, Language and Ideology: A Genealogy of Japanese Women’s Language (John Benjamins), Honyaku ga tsukuru Nihongo [Translation and Japanese Language] (Hakutakusha), Onna kotoba to Nihongo[Women’s Language and Japanese Language] (Iwanami shinsho), Sei to Nihongo [Sex and Japanese Language] (NHK Books), and Onna kotoba wa tsukurareru[Constructing Women’s Language] (Hituji shobo, Received the 27th Yamakawa Kikue Award).

Featured Speaker,Louise Haynes: Student Choice and Songs of Social Significance

“Songs of Social Significance” (which is also the name of her course) looks at a variety of songs ranging from the Spanish Civil War (and Cataluña today), Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s, the Civil Rights Movement in the US, and protest music of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Participants will discuss ways to teach issues such as environmental destruction in Vietnam, LGBT movement, women’s rights, and nuclear issues in Japan in a respectful, inclusive manner.

Additional Presentation: Student Choice, Motivation, and Inclusion

This presentation focuses on how to raise social issues, why we should, and what doing so means for individual students who may otherwise feel alone in their experience or opinions. The speaker will discuss personal experiences in dealing with controversial topics in the EFL classroom and offer suggestions as to how to give students choice when raising issues, and what that might mean for improvement in overall language skills, improved critical thinking, and higher self-esteem.

Louise Haynes has had a long-term teaching and activist presence in Japan, and has done valuable work in diverse areas such as AIDS awareness and prevention, and the teaching of controversial topics. Her current research interests are content analysis of protest music during the Spanish Civil War and music worldwide that deals with social issues. She has an MScTESOL and an MBA from Anaheim University. She is currently a vice-director of the language program at Nagoya City University.