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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Enregisterment of Dialects in Japanese YouTube Comments: A Comparative Analysis
by Rodriguez, Gabriel R., M.A., Georgetown University, 2018, 110; 10788816
Abstract (Summary)

This study contextualizes the explosive valorization and commodification of dialect in Japan since the 1980s, known as the “dialect boom”, in terms of Japanese social and economic issues and the growing public interest in diversity within Japan. While the dialect boom has been widely studied in sociolinguistics, little work has related it to the growing valorization of diversity, and most recent work has focused primarily on the Kansai dialect. To these ends, I analyze the enregisterment of six Japanese dialects, those of Osaka, Hakata, Nagoya, Aomori, Okinawa, and K?sh?. I analyze a corpus of YouTube comments responding to videos of dialect usage, using stance (DuBois 2007) to break down the social acts that produce enregisterment (Agha 2003). I draw on the theories of indexicality (Johnstone and Kiesling 2008, Eckert 2008) and the discourse analytic concept of dialect performance (Schilling-Estes 1998, Coupland 2007) as guides to interpreting the micro-social interactions I observe, connecting them to a macro-social context through the theories of Standard Language Ideology (Lippi-Green 1997), identity construction (Bucholtz & Hall 2005), and folklorization (Fishman 1987).

I examine evaluations of dialect based on attractiveness, humorousness, intelligibility, folklorization, and country-ness, evaluate their relative prestige by investigating the willingness of speakers to debate dialect performances’ fidelity, and finally examine the political conflicts dialects are implicated in by looking at how they are related to questions of diversity and nationalism. The similarities between evaluations of the dialects of Okinawa and Aomori, particularly in the category of folklorization, suggest that the dialects of Aomori have accrued affective traits of an Indigenous language (such as nostalgia or sentimentality) despite being spoken by members of the ethnic majority. However, the conflicts that arise over the cases of Okinawa and Osaka suggest that the use of dialect as a marker of regional identity is now being integrated into a nationalist Japanese self-image as a country with rich internal diversity. This provides a means by which Japan can engage with the discourses of liberal multiculturalism and diversity without seriously threatening the hegemony of Japanese ethno-nationalism, suggesting a need to reevaluate the past focus on nihonjinron in building critiques of Japanese nationalist ideology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nylund, Anastasia
School: Georgetown University
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 57/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Sociolinguistics
Keywords: Discourse analysis, Japanese dialects, Language valorization
Publication Number: 10788816
ISBN: 978-0-355-86102-0
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