ALTERED POTENTIAL FORM IN WRITTEN JAPANESE. A quantitative corpus analysis of ranuki-kotoba

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: This is a study on the frequency of ranuki-kotoba in written Japanese. It is apparent that Ranuki-kotoba is gaining popularity as there have been multiple surveys and opinion polls on the topic. There has however not been many quantitative analyses of pre-existing data to examine the current use of ranuki-kotoba. Therefore this paper aims to carry out a large scale analysis of the current state of ranuki-kotoba in written Japanese throughout various media categories. It is believed that ranuki-kotoba are more frequent among verbs with stems consisting of only one or two moras, and less frequent among verbs with three or more moras. Previous studies have shown that this appears to be true, but the amount of study cases have not proven to be large enough to do a definitive claim on its feasibility. Through the use of the SHONAGON version of the BCCWJ (Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese), an analysis of five ranuki-kotoba and their standard form counterpart has been carried out to get a broad view of words with different lengths. The corpus covers 11 media categories and consists of approximately 105 million words used in various texts ranging from the year 1976 to 2008. Ranuki-kotoba still appears to be rare outside colloquial situations and in situations where it’s frequently used, the standard –rare form is still used a lot. It was however noted that style seemed to have little to no impact on the frequency of ranuki-kotoba as style appear to be determined more according to the media category it exists in.

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