The myth of a homogeneous speech community: The speech of Japanese women in non-traditional gender roles

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/282516
Title:
The myth of a homogeneous speech community: The speech of Japanese women in non-traditional gender roles
Author:
Takano, Shoji, 1961-
Issue Date:
1997
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
The overall objective of this dissertation research was to account for heterogeneous language use closely linked to changes in speakers' social lives and ultimately to provide empirical evidence against a mythical, stereotyped view of Japan as a homogeneous speech community. As the most revealing variable, I have focused on the speech of Japanese women whose gender roles have undergone drastic transformation in contemporary society. The research consists of two particular phases of investigation. The first phase involves using the variationist approach to analyze the speech of three groups of women leading distinctive social lives: full-time homemakers, full-time working women in clerical positions and those in positions of authority. The results refute as overgeneralizations the claims of past mainstream work on Japanese gender differentiation, which has consistently defined women's language use based exclusively on middle-class full-time homemakers under the influence of the traditional ideology of complementary gender roles. Variable rule analysis reveals that differential performance grammars are operating among the three groups of women, and that the inter-group differentiation can be interpreted as social stratification more meaningfully correlated with speakers' concrete occupation-bound categories than abstract ones such as social class membership. Potential causes for such differentiation are accounted for in terms of speakers' everyday contacts with people and types of communicative routines and experiences in their occupation-bound communication networks. The second phase of the investigation sheds light on the sociolinguistic dilemmas Japanese working women in positions of leadership are likely to face. Working women in charge, a newly emerging group of women in non-traditional gender roles, tend to confront contradictions between the culturally prescribed ways of speaking for women (i.e., speaking politely, indirectly, deferentially) and the communicative requirements of their occupational status. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses of directive speech acts at a number of workplaces reveal that working women in charge characteristically use a variety of innovative sociolinguistic strategies to resolve such dilemmas. These strategies include de-feminization of overtly feminine morphosyntactic structures, contextualization to compensate for the indirect framing of directives, linguistic devices to mask power/status asymmetries with subordinates and promote collaborative rapport and peer solidarity, style-shifting of the predicate to negotiate the distribution of power, and strategic uses of polite language as an indexicality of their occupational status and identity rather than as a marker of powerlessness in conflict talk.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Language, Linguistics.; Literature, Asian.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Second Language Acquisition and Teaching
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Jones, Kimberly A.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleThe myth of a homogeneous speech community: The speech of Japanese women in non-traditional gender rolesen_US
dc.creatorTakano, Shoji, 1961-en_US
dc.contributor.authorTakano, Shoji, 1961-en_US
dc.date.issued1997en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThe overall objective of this dissertation research was to account for heterogeneous language use closely linked to changes in speakers' social lives and ultimately to provide empirical evidence against a mythical, stereotyped view of Japan as a homogeneous speech community. As the most revealing variable, I have focused on the speech of Japanese women whose gender roles have undergone drastic transformation in contemporary society. The research consists of two particular phases of investigation. The first phase involves using the variationist approach to analyze the speech of three groups of women leading distinctive social lives: full-time homemakers, full-time working women in clerical positions and those in positions of authority. The results refute as overgeneralizations the claims of past mainstream work on Japanese gender differentiation, which has consistently defined women's language use based exclusively on middle-class full-time homemakers under the influence of the traditional ideology of complementary gender roles. Variable rule analysis reveals that differential performance grammars are operating among the three groups of women, and that the inter-group differentiation can be interpreted as social stratification more meaningfully correlated with speakers' concrete occupation-bound categories than abstract ones such as social class membership. Potential causes for such differentiation are accounted for in terms of speakers' everyday contacts with people and types of communicative routines and experiences in their occupation-bound communication networks. The second phase of the investigation sheds light on the sociolinguistic dilemmas Japanese working women in positions of leadership are likely to face. Working women in charge, a newly emerging group of women in non-traditional gender roles, tend to confront contradictions between the culturally prescribed ways of speaking for women (i.e., speaking politely, indirectly, deferentially) and the communicative requirements of their occupational status. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses of directive speech acts at a number of workplaces reveal that working women in charge characteristically use a variety of innovative sociolinguistic strategies to resolve such dilemmas. These strategies include de-feminization of overtly feminine morphosyntactic structures, contextualization to compensate for the indirect framing of directives, linguistic devices to mask power/status asymmetries with subordinates and promote collaborative rapport and peer solidarity, style-shifting of the predicate to negotiate the distribution of power, and strategic uses of polite language as an indexicality of their occupational status and identity rather than as a marker of powerlessness in conflict talk.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectLanguage, Linguistics.en_US
dc.subjectLiterature, Asian.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineSecond Language Acquisition and Teachingen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorJones, Kimberly A.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest9814406en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b37742486en_US
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