Linguistic manifestation of gender reinforcement through the use of the Japanese term kawaii
MetadataShow full item record
This paper examines the Japanese work kawaii 'cute'. Young Japanese women frequently say kawaii to express positive feelings towards objects or people. Scholars suggest that Japanese women are making kawaii a part of female gender identity. From a linguistic perspective kawaii is not lexicalised in other langauges. Although the kawaii phenomenon has been thoroughly examined, there has been no rigorous semantic analysis. The framework of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach was applied to explicate the exact meaning of kawaii for non-Japanese speakers. The analysis indicates that the core meaning of kawaii is linked to a notion of a 'child'. The associated emotion is explained as 'when I see this, I can't not feel something good'. The kawaii syndrome reveals a Japanese cultural characteristic which puts emphasis on being 'gender appropriate' in schools and society. The analysis has implications for understanding gender construction and expression in non-western cultures.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Morris, Narrelle (2002)INTRODUCTION Since the mid-nineteenth century, there has been an enduring relationship between Western imaginings and the Japanese woman. Dressed in kimono and made up as a geisha, she has often been used in illustrations ...
Takao, Yasuo (2007)The 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women highlights the importance of equal participation of women in public life. Since the early 1960s, women in Japan have voted in elections ...
Asano-Cavanagh, Yuko (2012)This paper examines the Japanese word kawaii ‘cute’. Teachers frequently use kawaii to show positive feelings toward objects in the classroom. Female children also are primary users of the word, which suggests that they ...