As a result of the high rates of immigration or adoption, it is virtually impossible for linguistic minorities to exist in a given country. As result of this, there has been language contact that has become the major part of social fabric in daily life of many people. It has been noted that the sense of identity and belonging is a possible alternative of defining a community based on linguistic patterns (Williams, 1992).
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The Research Question
This paper looks into the identity and power in the work place or family as shown in Japanese television dramas or anime. The intention of language use in daily life is beyond the plain purpose of conveying information.
Some speech styles serve to position an individual in the social ladder and determine the level of interpersonal affiliations. The importance of communication to a great extent depends on how an individual says something rather than what one says.
As a result, people use varied linguistic styles depending on the audience or circumstance. Men and women in most cases will manipulate their linguistic style in an effort to project a particular image. Such alliterations linked to power and identities are by definition entangled within the concept of appropriate manhood or womanhood as per the Japanese society.
Research conducted by Coulmas, whose primary methodology was watching Japanese drama television, found out that speech articulation was an important aspect in that admired medium. The researcher also found that the use of pronouns in speech was a way of expressing respect to the person who was being addressed. Something of interest was that, speech patterns were highly linked to power, especially for men in Japanese society (Coulmas, 2005).
If a man wished to be considered powerful, he must have understood how to articulate properly the language that he employed. This entailed portrayal of conspicuous components of speech to sound masculine. On the other hand, youthfulness was a trait that was strongly emphasized for the women as portrayed in the Japanese drama. By employing a certain speech style, women could appear much younger.
For instance, alteration of the word shi to si portrayed a woman as a child thus linguistically reducing her age and hence changing the perception of the audience about her. The use of honorifics was used to express the youthfulness of a woman and ensured that women took a lower rank in the social hierarchy by always remaining submissive to their husbands.
The research further revealed that, Japanese television dramas and anime have had an upper hand in perpetuating the femininity of a Japanese woman and at the same time portraying men as superior. For example, women would be directly or in directly instructed on how to speak, they normally use incomplete sentences.
This gives the impression that they are emotional beings who are less rational as compared to men. The linguistic device portrayed men as having power over women. A conspicuous stratification was noted in the anime films based on gender. In these anime, boys choose samurai as their character, with their main focus being themes of science and discovery or detective stories. On the other hand, anime intended for girls, focused on love themes. This connotes men superiority and dominance over women (Coulmas, 2005).
Linguistic devices that are used by the scriptwriters to indicate to the viewers, the person who has the power.
Scriptwriters of Japanese drama or anime use different linguistic techniques to portray power relationships as witnessed in a range of Japanese drama. Some of the techniques are rhetoric, dramatic language, colloquialisms, alliteration, and emotive language among many others.
To begin with, scriptwriters use dramatic techniques to enhance connotation and indulgence amongst the audience (Tsujimura, 1996). These dramatic techniques include speech directions, which consist of words included in brackets instructing the actor on how to vary the tone when reciting the script. For instance, in the anime film Akira, voice of stars like Mitsuo Iwata as Kenada, and Yuriko Fuchizaki voicing Kaori have been used with variation to convey a message of power relationship.
A scriptwriter usually directs the use of commanding voice for the powerful character. Pitch and tone variation is emphasized to distinguish between the powerful and less powerful characters. This technique is demonstrated in the film Akira where Kaneda uses loud commanding voice to portray his superiority over the main character, Tetsuo. Tetsuo’s inferiority is represented by his soft spoken voice (Hudson, 2001).
“Asides” is another dramatic technique that involves one character periodically turning away when speaking to another. Usually, the powerful character is the one who turns away with the hands crisscrossed at the back, which is an indication of power and arrogance.
Another technique is the scenes and acts. A powerful character in a drama or anime will in most cases appear in scenes that gesture heroism. Symbolism is also a dramatic technique that is widely used in Japanese anime. The powerful character symbolizes a legendary person who once existed in the Japan society. This is seen in the anime ‘Power Rangers Samurai’ where Ohashi the main character symbolizes the legendary Samurai (Tsujimura, 2002).
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Scriptwriters also give stage directions as well as entrance and exits instructions with the aim of emphasizing power. Different characters enter and exit the stage depending on the power they wield in a particular drama series. For instance, a momentary stage brightening may be done to signify the coming of a hero who will save the other characters. Off stage noises are also varied depending on what is happening on the stage.
When a powerful character is about to appear on stage, special off stage noises are normally employed. In the anime Akira, the author uses music to give the film alienating superiority between men and women (Shibata, Kunihiro, Inoue, & Long, 1999).
In conclusion, it is clearly evident that Japanese dramas and anime uses linguistic devices to portray the character is powerful to the audience. Moreover, the research methodology that was used as indicated in this paper, could not have given a conclusive reflection of identity and power in workplace or family. There ought to have been a concrete method like direct interview of a sample population.
Coulmas, F. (2005). Sociolinguistics: The study of speakers’ choices. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Hudson, R. A. (2001). Sociolinguistics (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Shibata, T., Kunihiro, T., Inoue, F., & Long, D. (1999). Sociolinguistics in Japanese contexts. New York, NY: Mounton de Gruyter.
Tsujimura, N. (2002). The handbook of Japanese linguistics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Tsujimura, N. (1996). Introduction to Japanese linguistics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Williams, G. (1992). Sociolinguistics: A sociological critique. New York, NY