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Draft for ICC Presentation

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  Draft for ICC presentation Valentina Đorđević 3354   Introduction Hello everyone, today I am going to talk about “Language as a ‘mirror’ of Japanese culture”. My thesis is that there is an inseparable relationship between language and culture, which I will try to prove by explaining that on one hand language has a great influence on cultural values and on the other hand cultural values have a great influence on language  –   to prove this I will use Hofstede’s model that is, High and Low Context cultures, High and Low Power Distance and Femininity and Masculinity. My aim is to show how language expresses those cultural values . I did my research in the book Communication Between Cultures  written by Samovar, Porter and McDaniel. I also researched this in some articles and parts from other books which I will include in the end. Body Firstly, I am going to show you how language is reflected in a high context culture like the Japanese culture where internal meaning is usually embedded deep in the information, so   t he listener is expected to be able to read “between the lines” . When conversing in Japanese, people have to listen carefully to their interlocutors to find the context. Japanese has a lot of second person singular pronouns that all mean “YOU”  in English and which can cause confusion if these pronouns are not used according to the situation. For example, “ ANATA ” is the safest to use when the speaker is not sure of the listener’s social status. “ OMAE ” is used for those below you in age, experience and social status. “ KISAMA ” is a pronoun that should not be used by common people as royalty elites use it to address commoners or people they hate. Another word that has led to numerous misunderstandings is the word “YES” said “HAI” is Japanese. The Japanese will say ‘yes’ to mean ‘I hear you’ and they will typically never say ‘no’ outright, mak ing it necessary to interpret the rejection from the way the message was delivered. This has led to many problems during interactions with Western firms. For example, the Western firm representative  may think that the Japanese representatives are agreeing with their terms but it is in fact the opposite. Secondly , when it comes to high and low power distance, Japan is a high-power distance culture which means they respect their superiors and tend to be afraid of their bosses.   Japan has a score of 54 o n the scale of Hofstede’s model so we can say that Japan is a high power distance country. Although honorifics are not part of the basic grammar of the Japanese language, they are a fundamental part of the sociolinguistics of Japanese . Most prominently used honorific is ‘SAN’. I t is a title of respect used in various contexts, including those which the Westerners consider more informal than formal, such as the family. For example, they use formal terms OTOSAN (father) and OKASAN (mother). Also when they address their older siblings they use ONIISAN (brother) and ONESAN (sister). Moreover, they will say “SHACHO SAN” (Mr. President) to a company president or the first level management they will address as “KACHO SAN” (Mr. Section Chief) . This shows that they pay attention to hierarchy and are very respectful of their superiors both in their job and among family members. Thirdly, I will concentrate on femininity and masculinity, which refers to the degree to which masculine and feminine traits are valued and expressed in language. At 95 score of Hofstede’s scale, Japan is one of the most Masculine societies in the world.   Linguists say that men and women talk differently no matter which language they speak.   These differences are often called gendered speech.   Japanese is often cited as a notoriously gendered language. Women’s speech is described as softer, gentler, more polite, and less assertive than men’s speech which is characterized as being abrupt, strong, assertive, and sometimes rude.   For example, first person pronouns associated with feminine speech are often seen as softer and gentler than the male equivalents, or the neutral terms. Some feminine examples include: ATASHI, ATAKUSHI AND UCHI. Men can use BOKU and ORE.    Moreover, men and women use different sentence finals. For example:   Women use: wa  indicates the femininity of the speaker ne   emphasizes agreement and seeks confirmation, such as ‘isn’t it’? no  used to ask a question Men use:   sa  softens a statement zo  indicates new information ze  used with the imperative Recent studies have shown that young women have stopped using feminine speech in favour of more neutral or even masculine language.   Many believe that this may be the end of women’s speech, but perhaps it’s only a shift in women’s speech patterns away from sentence final ‘ wa ’  to more direct and less soft language as new ideas of femininity take hold in Japan. Conclusion I would like to conclude by saying that language and culture are deeply connected and cannot be separated. They influence each other on many levels as presented earlier. I chose to represent that connection through Hofstede’s value dimensions high and low context culture and power distance and femininity and masculinity, concentrating on the Japanese language and examples from everyday speech. All of us as students of language need to be aware of this connection and also incorporate this cultural part into our future classes as teachers.
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