Chapter published in:Cultural Keywords in Discourse
Edited by Carsten Levisen and Sophia Waters
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 277] 2017
► pp. 211–234
The semantics of a Japanese cultural keyword and its social elaboration
With a point of departure in the Japanese keyword kawaii, roughly, “cute”, this chapter explores contemporary Japanese social discourse. Using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage to explicate kawaii, the two kawaii compounds ita-kawaii and otona-kawaii and the related keywords itai and otona, this study breaks new ground into the understanding of the conceptual basis of kawaii and its elaborations in discourse. As the conceptual configurations of kawaii and related concept are analysed, a view on Japanese socialization and gendered discourse is simultaneously developed, and the value of ‘being kawaii’ is being scrutinized through the stability and innovations of kawaii in discourse.
Keywords: kawaii , itai , otona , Japanese social keywords, gender discourse, media discourse
Published online: 19 October 2017
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