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The gaijin at home: A study of the use of the word gaijin by the Japanese speech community in Sydney, Australia

Author(s): Daniel Curtis

Journal: New Voices : A Journal for Emerging Scholars of Japanese Studies in Australia and New Zealand
ISSN 1833-5233

Volume: 4;
Start page: 32;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: gaijin | indexing | deixis | Japanese speech community

The word gaijin, typically glossed as ‘foreigner’, has been the focus of academic interest spanning across several disciplines, ranging from studies in intercultural communication, discourse analysis, and discriminatory language. These studies have perhaps logically been confined to the context of Japan, as it makes sense to study ‘foreigners’ in a context in which they are indeed‘foreign’. It may be by an extension of this logic that the use of the word gaijin has not been studied in contexts outside of Japan at all.This study made use of a novel methodology of focus groups and follow-up interviews to capture the use of the word gaijin by members of the Japanese speech community in Sydney, to ascertain empirically how members of the community use the word gaijin, and in what contexts such usage occurs. The article identifies the interpretations of the word of native and non-native speakers of Japanese, and discovers two models of the use of the word gaijin.

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