Japanglish - looking at the culture through the mirror of langauge

A Project Prototype by Kasumi Yamamoto

not published

based on Sample Project

Japan is considered a homogeneous society with a rich traditional culture.  However, upon closer examination, you will find influences of foreign cultures in its long history and how creative Japanese were to adapt them and turn them into an integral part of Japanese culture.  One of the prominent examples is adapting foreign words and creating new usages of them.  While these loanwords are enriching Japanese language and culture,  the increasing number of loanwords started to create issues these days. According to the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, there are about 5000 loanwords (most of them are borrowed from English and European languages) used in newspapers, TV and radio programs in Japan. Although loanwords are easy to introduce new and foreign concepts and they sound modern, sophisticated and fashionable, many Japanese and Japanese language learners find difficulty in understanding them. It is particularly problematic when they are used in public documents. They are also very confusing for Japanese language learners because many of them do not carry the original meanings of their source language and they are phonologically altered in order to suit Japanese phonetic rules.  The National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics For Japanese now has a research group to standardize the use of loanwords and suggest retranslating them back to Japanese, especially in the public documents.  Some researchers stress the need to teach loanwords explicitly to Japanese language learners to avoid miscommunication.  Thus, studying the current state of loanwords in Japan also leads to a much broader issue, language change and language policy.

This PBLL is a part of the CLILL course on Japanese Linguistics in a study abroad program in Japan where students from US consortium colleges study Japanese as a foreign language while living with Japanese host-families. The project is to look into kaleidoscopic Japanese culture in its linguistic adaptations and changes, namely, through the analysis of Japanese loanwords.  Students will investigate what role loanwords play in Japanese culture and society, what they do to the Japanese language.  They will first study the historical backgrounds of Japanese loanwords, and learn basic linguistic concepts and methods in order to analyze the phonological and morphological structure of loan words, then investigate the current state of Japanese loanwords by themselves through data collection from newspapers, magazines, manga, TV commercials and natural speech conversation among host-families.  They will also explore perceptions of loanwords through interviews and questionnaires with native speakers of Japanese as well as Japanese language learners. As a cumulative product, they will conduct a public debate involving Japanese college students and people from the community. Two groups of students will debate whether or not loanwords are enriching Japanese language and culture. In their final report, they summarize what role loanwords play in Japanese culture and society and suggest how we can improve their role in Japanese language and culture and look at this issue through the perspective of language change and language policy.    

 

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Learning linguistics concepts and key terminologies

Launching the Project

Katakana confusion

Suggestions for paraphrasing loanwords

Collecting loanword samples

Interview

PowerPoint Presentation

Managing the Project

How to conduct interviews

Effective powerpoint presentation

How to conduct debates

Assessment

Peer evaluation

Public Debate

Reflection and self assessment

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Learning linguistics concepts and key terminologies

As a part of CILL linguistics course,  students will be introduced to basic concepts in Japanese phonology and morphology and practice how to analyze data.  They will also learn learn key terminologies and useful expressions to discuss data in Japanese.

Launching the Project

Katakana confusion

1. Students will read episodes of confusing loanwords and discuss them.  They also will share their own experiences.  By the time this project takes place, most of the students will have already spent 6 months in Japan, they must have several interesting episodes or katakana examples that they can share in class.  

2. For each episode/example, we will discuss what makes it difficult or confusing for Japanese langauge learners. We will focus on linguistic and cultural differences.

 

Technology Tips

Use online site - Katakan Confusion

Task Extension

Students can search similar sites and share their findings.

Suggestions for paraphrasing loanwords

The Committe of Loanwords at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics conducted a large-scale survey on the use of loanwords and published a series of reports.  Students will read excerpts of these reports and the current issues of loanword use in Japan.

Technology Tips

Use NIJLL website.

Collecting loanword samples

1. Students form groups and decide what categories of loanwords they will collect samples for. Students will use authentic texts (newspapers, magazines, street signs, etc) as well as host-family's daily conversations. 

2. Organize and analyze the data to see how loanwords are used in daily life in Japan

 

Technology Tips

Students will pool samples in google spread sheets to share them.

Interview

Students will first identify issues related to loanwords and list questions.  Based on this, they will compose a questionnaire and conduct interviews with native speakers of Japanese, foreign residents in Japan and Japanese language learners. 

The format of the questionaire and the interview procedures will be discussed and determined together with students.

PowerPoint Presentation

Students in groups will summarize the interview results as well as the loanwords sample collections.  They present the results to their peers at the study abroad program.

Managing the Project

How to conduct interviews

Using a interview sheet, student will organize questions.  Students will practice how to begin an interview, ask questions, ask for opinions/comments and conclude the interview.

Effective powerpoint presentation

Students will watch a TedEx video and discuss what makes presentation effective and interesting.  Then, they will create a rubric.

Technology Tips

Youtube

How to conduct debates

Students will lean the format and the goal of debates, and useful expressions.  They prepare and practice in groups.  Students can visit a debate club at a Japanese college to see how they practice and get advice from Japanese students.

Technology Tips

Youtube

Assessment

Peer evaluation

Based on their rubric, students evaluate their presentation.

 

Public Debate

Students will prepare a public debate on loanword use in Japan.  They use the findings from their research to build up their arguments.  I plan to involve Japanese college students in this debate, either as a part of a debate team, judge or audience. Japanese linguists will be invited and one of them can be a judge. Also, their peers and host family will be invited to the event.

Technology Tips

Video Camera to record the debate

Reflection and self assessment

The debate will be video taped and the students will review and evaluate their own performance using a check sheet.  The content of the check sheet will be discussed with the students before the debate so they are aware of what is important when they prepare for and participate in the debate.

Implementation Info

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