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Four: A Highly Recommended Book about Loanwords in Japanese

8 May

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I really recommend this book as an essential read for anyone interested in the linguistic phenomenon of borrowing arising from language contact. The particular focus is on loanwords that have come into the Japanese language, with an analysis of the historical, phonological, morphological, semantic and orthographic processes involved as the words are incorporated and integrated into Japanese. The book ends with a chapter overviewing attitudes towards the loanwords as they exist in Japanese society and culture. It is a thoroughly interesting and intricately researched book which not only gives in-depth data about various linguistic aspects of loanword integration, but also provides a useful literature review of previous studies existing in both English and Japanese  bodies of literature.

The one, fairly major, drawback is the steep price of the book if it is intended for personal use.

Here is a link to the details on the amazon.jp site:

Mark Irwin. Loanwords in Japanese (Amazon jp)

Three: English Today Article: Unlocking the encoded English vocabulary in the Japanese language

15 Mar

I wrote an article for the English Today journal (click the above image for the abstract and access details) entitled:

Unlocking the encoded English vocabulary in the Japanese language

It outlines how a basic knowledge of the katakana script can be extremely useful for unlocking a huge amount of English found in the Japanese language. I feel that an important point raised in the article is that the 2 scripts of (1) romaji and (2) the English alphabet are often confused. These are 2 distinct ways of transcribing English words in the Japanese language and it is important not to confuse them. The article gives details of this along with examples.

Two: A Highly Recommended Book about English in Japanese

4 Feb

Built-in Lexicon of English Loanwords

This is a highly recommended book about the loanwords that exist in the Japanese language. Daulton argues convincingly that English loanwords in Japanese should be viewed as a built-in lexicon for Japanese learners of English and as such should be considered for inclusion in pedagogical materials (he gives an overview of such materials at the end of the book). He draws together a range of empirical studies conducted by himself and others to show that there is a high level of correlation between the loanwords found in Japanese (e.g. in newspapers and loanword dictionaries) and the high-frequency words in the English language. Indeed, he finds that about half of the high-frequency words (word families) of English correspond to words found in the bank of loanwords from English in the Japanese language.

I particularly enjoy his discussion, and ultimate rejection, of arguments made against conceptualising loanwords as a useful linguistic resource. He highlights several studies (and I will discuss these in later posts) which take an overtly negative view of loanwords in Japanese and points out problems in their ideological viewpoint and methodological approach.

This book is an essential read and acts as a great reference source of not only empirical data relating to the use of English loanwords in English classes in Japan, but also of a wide variety of other projects, papers and commentaries which discuss this fascinating sociolinguistic area.

(Click on the above image to go to the Amazon.jp webpage to find out more about the book)