On the Use of Katakana in a Modern Japanese Essay

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: The purpose of the present study is to carry out a pilot investigation on the use of katakana ina modern Japanese essay, and to compare how the usage of katakana differs between dailynewspaper and a modern essay. Among the words written in katakana, special focus wasgiven to the higairaigo, which are normally written in kanzi or hiragana.The material chosen for the present study is “Runrun o katte o-uti ni kaeroo” by MarikoHayasi. This author writes in a very modern way, keeping the written language close to thespoken word. This style in literature is called genbun ittitai. The earliest examples of literaturein this style are from the l7th century. But it was not until around 1890 that the style began todevelop, through the works of authors like Simei Hutabatei and Bimyo Yamada. ClassicalJapanese literature is heavily influenced by classical Chinese, and even today the forma!written language retains much of this character. Mariko Hayasi has been recognised for hersuccessful use of a radical and modern form ofgenbun ittitai.The following questions were posed in the present study: What kinds of words are writtenin katakana? Does the use of katakana in this book differ from that in the daily newspaperAsahi Shinbun, analysed by Nakayarna (1998)? If so, in what respects does it differ? Whydoes Mariko Hayasi choose to write these particular words in katakana?

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