Sociophonetic Variation at the Intersection of Gender, Region, and Style in Japanese Female Speech
Podesva, Robert J.
This dissertation is a sociophonetic study of 46 female Japanese speakers from three major metropolitan regions: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. While previous work on Japanese Women's Language assumes a monolithic speech variety, this study shows that women in the three regions exhibit strikingly different speech patterns. Rather than constructing a uniform gender identity, Japanese women produce gendered figures that typify particular geographic regions while negotiating the regional stereotypes.Three phonetic features in 25 dyadic conversation recordings of 46 participants are analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively: breathy voice, acoustic characteristics of voiceless sibilant fricatives /s/ (e.g. sumi `charcoal') and /ɕ/ (e.g. shumi `hobby'), and intonational patterns (accented vs. deaccented) of negative polar questions (e.g. amaku nai? `isn't [this] sweet?'). The analyses present the cross-regional patterning as well as intra-regional variation using the mixed-method technique with sociolinguistic variationist analysis, close examination of conversations, and ethnographic approach.The cross-regional analyses, which present big-picture patterns for the three phonetic features, show the following:1) A feature that is considered to mark gender (i.e. breathy voice) exhibits regional differences (for Kyoto speakers, breathy voice exhibits a stronger correlation with low intensity and high F0 levels than for Tokyo and Osaka speakers)2) A feature that serves to distinguish region (acoustic analyses of the fricatives /s/ and /ɕ/ show that the Tokyo fricatives are significantly different from the Osaka fricatives) simultaneously connotes meanings that can be used to construct gender (e.g. higher center of gravity of fricatives connotes "sharpness"); and3) A feature that carries the meaning of the Tokyo regionality (i.e. the deaccented form of negative questions) can be used by speakers of other regions to indicate their alignment with a Tokyo-centric ideology.Intra-regional variation is further examined to explore the meanings of the quantitative patterns at the interactional level. The meanings are drawn based on the participants' individual styles that are co-constructed by linguistic and non-linguistic identity practices. The intra-regional analyses reveal how the participants utilize the phonetic features to construct their regional gender identities while aligning with or disaligning from the local stereotypes, such as the "boring" Tokyo, the "classy" Kyoto, and "harsh" Osaka.
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