Edited by Kimi Akita and Prashant Pardeshi
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 16] 2019
► pp. 265–302
Chapter 11Iconicity in L2 Japanese speakers’ multi-modal language use
Mimetics and co-speech gesture in relation to L1 and Japanese proficiency
Japanese mimetics are often reported to be difficult for speakers of Japanese as a second/foreign language (L2). Recent work examining L2 Japanese learners’ comprehension/perception (e.g., Naito-Billen 2013; Nakaishi et al. 2014) found that understanding mimetics is indeed challenging even for advanced learners, but less is known about L2 speakers’ spontaneous use of mimetics and gesture, which are known to co-occur (Kita 1997). We examined the use of mimetics and co-speech gesture by L2 Japanese speakers whose first language (L1) is either English or Korean, focusing on narrations of video clips. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the role of L2 Japanese speakers’ L1 and their L2 proficiency in the use of mimetics (highly iconic phonomimes and less iconic phenomimes) and co-speech gesture. Our analyses show that differences in the availability of mimetics in a speaker’s L1 affect the use of L2 mimetics and gesture in a subtle manner. Regardless of L1, L2 Japanese speakers produced iconic co-speech gestures accompanying mimetics, especially for phonomimes. While the frequency of mimetics use does not correlate with the level of proficiency, the pattern of mimetic-gesture synchronization seems to reflect L2 proficiency. The results are discussed in terms of the two modes of representations involved in language use (Kita 1997; Dingemanse and Akita 2017).
- 2.Previous studies
- 2.1Sound-symbolism and mimetics in L1 Japanese acquisition
- 2.2Sound symbolism and Japanese mimetics in L2 learning
- 2.3Mimetics in English and in Korean
- 2.4Mimetics and gesture
- 2.4.1Co-speech gesture and mimetics
- 2.4.2Mimetic-gesture synchronization patterns
- 3.Current study: Research questions
- 4.3Data collection procedure
- 4.4Method of analysis
- 5.Use of mimetics
- 5.1RQ1: When speaking Japanese as L2, how often do L1 English and L1 Korean speakers use mimetics?
- 5.2RQ2: Is L2 use of mimetics related to Japanese proficiency?
- 5.3Discussion on the use of mimetics
- 6.Co-production of mimetics and gesture
- 6.1RQ3: When speaking Japanese as L2, how often do L1 English and L1 Korean speakers produce gestures accompanying mimetics?
- 6.2RQ4: Is L2 Japanese speakers’ co-production of mimetics and gesture related to their Japanese proficiency?
- 6.3Discussion on mimetic-gesture co-production
- 7.General discussion and conclusion