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Learners’ Strategies for Transliterating English Loanwords into Katakana

Author(s): Esther Lovely

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

Volume: 4;
Start page: 100;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Katakana | loanwords | transliteration | strategies | JFL

Post-World War II, the Japanese language has experienced massive influxes of foreign words and expressions into its lexicon, known as “loanwords” or borrowings. These lexical items are commonly written in Japanese using katakana symbols. Transliterating these words into katakana accurately is a primary source of difficulty for foreign learners of Japanese. Previous studies in the field of learners’ transliteration of foreign loanwords have focused mainly on error analysis and no formal study has investigated the basis for learners’ methods of transliteration.Using a combination of interviews and think-aloud procedures, 21 students at the University of Queensland, who were studying 1st year Japanese courses, were surveyed. The students transliterated a list of selected loanwords and expressions into katakana, while responding to inquiries about their transliterations and verbalising their mental processes. These interviews were then analysed for evidence of strategies. The students also completed a short survey on their learning background and exposure to the Japanese language outside the classroom. Strategies were subsequently identified and the answers to the surveys were analysed for evidence of correlations between students with a higher level of accuracy in transliteration and their strategies and extra-curricular exposure.

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