Complementary stylistic resonance in Japanese play framing

Hiroko Takanashi


Building on the theoretical frameworks of frame and stance, this paper aims to demonstrate how play framing is manipulated in culturally meaningful contexts of Japanese conversations among friends and to show the consequences it brings to social life. This study particularly focuses on speech style shifts across speakers as one of the linguistic play-framing devices. The notion of “complementary stylistic resonance” as a special kind of pragmatic resonance is introduced to investigate how speech participants meta-linguistically signal their common stance of constructing a play frame. It was observed that in play they characteristically use the speech style of each imagined persona in a complementary social relationship such as “teacher and student,” “husband and wife,” and “American male and female in the dubbing register.” The ideologies of those dichotomized social roles are spontaneously evoked between the speakers through meta-language practice, resulting in solidifying their ideologies. Furthermore, in play, speech styles of those social roles are exaggerated and maximally contrasted within the pairs so that their identities are easily recognized by the speech partners to successfully co-construct the play at hand and to enhance its humorous effects. Although there may be a gap between ideology and reality, complementary stylistic resonance in play helps speech participants reconstruct their language ideologies of socially salient roles in local language practice, which serves as the concrete and dynamic ground for the process of recreating a larger cognitive and interactive dimension of culture.

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