ORE WA BOKU JA NAI. Second Language Identities: Swedish exchange student’s usage of first person pronouns in Japanese
Abstract: This study aims to further investigate how expression of gender identity in Japanese takes form, with focus on the grammatical category 1S pronouns, such as watashi (私), watakushi (私), ore (俺) and boku (僕). This study includes both a quantitative and qualitative approach towards usage of Japanese’s 1S pronouns. Discourse analysis based on Gee (2010) will work as theoretical framework together with earlier research on second language identities mostly based on Block (2007) and Norton (2013), as well as gendered language and gender identities mostly based on Brown and Cheek (2017). The Swedish L2ers of Japanese use the pronouns in accordance to both their Japanese and Swedish identities. This sometimes create conflicts and negotiation within the L2ers. The feminine 1S pronouns were used much less in comparison to the male equivalents. The pronoun ore seems to more times than not strengthen the expression of identity for the male L2ers. However, the feminine atashi was rarely used as it was viewed as “too girly” for many. Watashi was used instead as it was closest to the Swedish jag. The male L2ers embrace the masculine nuance in the pronouns but the female L2ers do often times converge from the feminine connoted pronouns. Based on gender norms from Sweden, this could arguably affect why female L2ers of Japanese would rather use watashi since it is seen as the gender-neutral alternative.
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