- ジェンダー史学 (ISSN:18804357)
- vol.2, pp.49-62, 2006 (Released:2011-10-11)
This paper investigates women's speech in modern Japanese language in terms of the historical process of its establishment. It is common knowledge that there are clear differences between men's speech and women's speech in Japanese language, which implies that some forms are used exclusively by one sex but not the other. It is also generally recognized that the origin of Japanese women's speech is teyo-dawa, the speech of female students of the Meiji period (1868-1912). However, it is difficult to assume that this speech of female students spread among the general population of women during this period, an era of no auditory mass media. Furthermore, few studies explain the reason why teyo-dawa was accepted as the speech of women despite the fact that it was severely castigated by the mass media of the Meiji period.I argue that the sex differences of modern Japanese language were first established in the speech of female characters of Meiji novels. Before the Meiji era, the most common theme of popular novels was the liaison between a man and a prostitute of the pleasure quarter. These prostitutes used particular social dialects that were spoken only in their quarters. In the Meiji period, in seeking a style for the novels of a new era, writers created "modern" women as the partners of their male protagonists. These women were characterized by having received western education and by their use of teyo-dawa speech. Although teyo-dawa was bitterly criticized by Meiji society, it became the marker of "modern" sexuality in the literary works, and later obtained the status of the model speech for general women.