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English loanwords in Japanese: Some cultural implications

Language Sciences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0388-0001(90)90020-h
  • Linguistics


Abstract The various loanward dictionaries published in Japan over the past two decades have been growing in size, from some 20,000 entries in the mid-60s to well over 30,000 by the 80s. The sociolinguistic interest in the growth is focused on the cultural implications of such a wholesale borrowing, among other features. The categories of loanword use, the functions of loanwords, their proscriptions in some situations, and so on are of interest, as is the similarity of the sophistication of their use to the usage of Chinese loans of over a millenium ago. This presentation will address the following areas: (1) a specification of the ever more complicated categories of borrowings and their intricate uses in Japanese; (2) an analysis of the developing functions of the loans; (3) a discussion of the cultural attitudes which permit much borrowing in some semantic areas, less in others, to the point of rejection in some ; (4) a brief discussion of how the present process of wholesale borrowing of English words has certain similarities to the wholesale borrowing of Chinese language and culture some 1400 years ago. The latter point emphasizes how language borrowing is but part of an overall process of cultural interaction.

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