Trinity College Dublin and Osaka University Joint International Symposium

Japanese Studies in a global context: The art of friendship

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Role language, fiction, and translation

Satoshi Kinsui, Osaka University

“Role language” is a set of spoken language features (such as vocabulary, grammar, phonetic characteristics, and set phrases) that are mainly used in fiction and stereotypically associated with a speaker’s social and cultural attributes (such as gender, age/generation, occupation/social status, region/nationality). Since Kinsui (2000, 2003), I have studied the types, functions, and historical derivation of role language. My own research has focused on Japanese, and I have also been involved with other researchers and students in the study of various other languages (including English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, German and Thai). Of all the languages studied, Japanese role language has the finest differentiation, with a rich system involving all aspects of vocabulary, grammar and phonology. It is used widely in works of popular culture as well as high culture today. In this presentation, I will talk about recent developments in research on role language, by introducing the Research Project on the Translation of Haruki Murakami’s Works, in which I attempt to incorporate the viewpoint of role language into translation studies.

Short Biography

Satoshi Kinsui, D. Litt., is a professor of Japanese linguistics at the Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University. He is currently the dean of the faculty (April 2016 to March 2018). He is a scholar of the history of Japanese language, with a special focus on grammar. Since 2000 he has been studying “role language” as well. He has extensively published on the history of Japanese grammar and role language. In particular, Vaacharu Nihongo: Yakuwarigo no nazo (Iwanami Shoten), in print since 2003, will shortly be published in its English translation, Virtual Japanese: Enigmas of role language by Osaka University Press.