Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education Issue 20
2017-03-01 発行

Exploring Japanese Speakers’ Use of Japanese Words and Conversation Style in English Language Interactions

The Japanese language has an extensive history of adopting words from foreign languages and adapting them substantially for easy use by its native speakers. The most recent and extensively influential contact language has been American-English from the post-World War II US occupation and currently due to the popularity of information and communication technology and pop-culture. A 2007 estimate has approximately 10% of the Japanese lexicon being of foreign origin or ‘gairaigo’ and of the 10% of gairaigo in Japanese dictionaries, up to 90% is reported to be of English origin (Daulton, 2011). In addition to these many established gairaigo entries in standard Japanese and/or specialized loanword dictionaries, there is frequent coining and usage of new ‘pseudo’ or ‘made-in-Japan’ English, ‘wasei-eigo’, and foreign language ‘waseigaikokugo’. Even when the coinages are not based on English words or undergo mutations that render them unrecognizable to native speakers of English, Japanese speakers of English can regularly be heard using such coinages in English-language discourse with speakers from other cultures. Though the initial focus of the study was Japanese speakers’ use of Japanese or Japanized foreign terms in English language discourse, a close look at a first time interaction between a fourth-year Japanese university student and an Indonesian researcher points to the value of also raising Japanese speakers’ awareness of different conversation styles of non-Japanese speakers of English.
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