Variation in the use of innovative katakana in a Japanese corpus

Feng, Poo Ching (2018) Variation in the use of innovative katakana in a Japanese corpus. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This study assesses writer’s use of innovative katakana forms in texts in a corpus of written Japanese and examines the effects of linguistic and social factors on the use of innovative katakana. Focusing specifically on innovative katakana that represent sequences including /w/ and /v/ phones, one of the aims of the study is to investigate whether the presence of /w/ in the native phonological system encourages the use of innovative /w/ forms in sequences that do not appear in native lexical items. This is in contrast to forms containing /v/ which lack native counterparts in any context in the Japanese phonological system. Another objective of this paper is to investigate whether the likelihood of using innovative katakana is affected by position within a word. Also, this research applied the framework of variationist sociolinguistics to identify which social factors significantly affect the innovative writing behavior. To answers these questions, this study uses the data collected from the Chunagon database for descriptive analysis and multivariate analysis. The Chunagon corpus is a written corpus compiled by the National Institution of Japanese Language and Linguistics which contains approximately 100 million words and includes texts published between the 1970's and the 2000's. The results show that the presence of native phones triggers a higher usage of innovative katakana in loanword forms containing /w/ as compared to /v/ forms. The findings also indicate that innovative /w/ and /v/ forms occurred more often in word-initial position than in medial and final positions. Concerning the social factors, the multivariate results show that there is no effect for age and gender for the /w/ variable but for the /v/ variable, there is an effect of gender. Only the /v/ variable showed expected innovative preference in informal (webs and books) genres whereas the /w/ variable showed an unanticipated higher innovative usage in a formal register which comprises governmental and legal genres. In sum, this study has presented some significant findings of showing linguistic reasons (the presence of native phone and the positional effect) that would enhance the use of innovative katakana in written texts.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 13524
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 94-100).
Keywords: Japanese, katakana, innovative, conservative, corpus, orthography, linguistic factors, variationist sociolinguistics
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: July 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Japanese language--Variation; Japanese language--Syllabication; Japanese language--Writing; Sociolinguistics--Japan.

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