Edited by Nicolette Bramley and Naoko Hanamura
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 15] 1998
► pp. 11–28
Knowledge of gendered sentence-final forms in Japanese as a second language
This study examines the use of gendered sentence-final forms by learners of Japanese as a second language (JSL). Sentence-final forms (SFF) like wa, zo, kashira, etc., are pervasive in Japanese speech, and serve to signal agreement or empathy with the interlocutor and to maintain the ongoing discourse. Although these forms carry no syntactic or semantic meaning, they serve a range of pragmatic functions, including that of marking gender, which is an important distinction in Japanese. In this study the receptive and productive knowledge of gendered forms by advanced JSL learners is examined. Results from a recognition test and an analysis of oral speech samples produced by JSL learners are compared with those of a control group of native Japanese speakers. Three findings emerged. 1) The advanced JSL learners consistently used the same sentence-final forms, which were far fewer in number than those used native speaker counterparts. 2) No clear-cut male-female differences emerged in either language group for most of the forms studied. 3) The productive and receptive responses for both groups differed from traditional classifications of the forms. The implications of the results for JSL pedagogy are discussed.