Variation and change in Osaka Japanese honorifics: a sociolinguistic study of dialect contact
Strycharz, Anna Maria
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This thesis is a sociolinguistic investigation into the use of local referent honorific suffixes by speakers of Osaka Japanese (OJ). Its main goal is to add to our understanding of the variation and change in the use of honorification among Japanese speakers, by including a combination of methodologies and frameworks within the scope of one discussion. The analysis covers both local referent honorific suffixes HARU, YARU and YORU, as well as Standard Japanese forms, (RA)RERU and so called special verbs. The main focus, however, is on providing a detailed examination of the local referent honorific suffix HARU. An analysis of the distribution patterns of this honorific allows us to explore (i) ongoing changes in its use across three generations of speakers, and (ii) the indexicality of its meaning in use, including the changing social meanings attached to the form see in the analysis of interactions, distribution and metapragmatic comments. The analysis shows that the use of both local and standard honorifics in informal conversations of OJ users is decreasing significantly among younger speakers. However, it also highlights the different linguistic behaviour of young men and young women in this speech community, and links their use of HARU with local linguistic and cultural ideologies, showing how they may be affecting both perceptions and patterns of use of the form. Additionally, the analysis in this dissertation looks at various levels of linguistic structure, allowing us to explore whether the Osaka honorific system does indeed function as a single system, or whether different forms at different levels of linguistic structure have their own histories and trajectories. The analysis suggests that the honorific resources available to OJ users (both standard and local features) need to be seen as a continuum (cf. Okamoto 1998), rather than separate and distinct systems. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are employed in the analysis. The quantitative analysis investigates the ongoing changes in the frequency of use of HARU, as well as its distribution according to a range of social and linguistic functions. The qualitative analysis suggests that HARU is socially meaningful for the speakers, performing multiple functions in the interpersonal domain of discourse. Combining the two approaches to study Japanese honorifics in naturally occurring conversations is an attempt at bridging the gap between a number of previous studies.