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Gendered Language in Recent Short Stories by Japanese Women, and English Translation

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Author(s): Lucy Fraser

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

Volume: 2;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: women | gender | language | literature | translation

ABSTRACT
This article analyses five recent Japanese short stories written by women, with female first person narrators, and the English translations of these stories. I examine how the writers interact with the culturally loaded concept of gendered language to develop characters and themes. The strategies used by translators to render gendered styles into English are also discussed: case-by-case creative solutions appear most effective.‘Feminine’ and other gendered styles are used to index social identity, to highlight the difference between the social and inner self, and different styles are mixed together for impact. Gendered styles, therefore, are of central importance and translators wishing to adhere closely to the source text should pay close attention to them.All the narrators of the stories demonstrate an understanding of ‘social sanction and taboo’. Two accustom themselves to a socially acceptable future, another displays an uneasy attitude to language and convention, while others fall into stereotypes imposed on them or chastise themselves for inappropriate behaviour. The stories illustrate the way in which gendered language styles in Japanese can be manipulated, as both the writers and the characters they create deliberately use different styles for effect.

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