Marcello Francioni

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

London, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9366

Approve Date

October 7, 2016

Project Title

Francioni, Marcello, U. of London, London, UK - To aid research on 'Onee-kotoba. Masculinity, Language and Sexuality in Contemporary Japan,' supervised by Dr. Carolina Osella

Preliminary abstract: My research aims to shed new light on masculinities in contemporary Japan by looking at the interplay between language and sexuality, using a multi-disciplinary approach. I will analyse the use of onee-kotoba, or big sister’s talk, a vernacular employed by non-heterosexual men in Japan. Onee-kotoba has previously been defined as a parody of female speech. However, while inclusive of elements taken from standard female speech, it also features elements of male speech which have been consistently overlooked. To date, almost no literature has been produced on onee-kotoba from a linguistic or anthropological point of view, and when quoted, it is never thoroughly discussed. This study will examine, then, how the use, or refusal, of onee-kotoba influences socialisation in Japan’s urban ‘gay areas’ and the shaping of a shared idea of masculinity. I will focus on the role of onee-kotoba as a cultural tool that can be openly accessed to create a space for bonding, building friendships, to foster inclusion or exclusion, intimacy and relatedness and to build inter-personal and professional networks. I will examine what type of masculinities these processes encourage or prevent, be hegemonic or alternative representations. I will also list features of onee-kotoba and highlight the meanings attached – that is, which features enhance or inhibit one’s masculinity, how certain features take specific emotional meanings when they relate to the process of formation of a sense of self – and onee-kotoba’s position in the network of power relations that mark its status as a jargon, a dialect, or as a standard variety of Japanese. Data will be collected during a 11-month fieldwork through participant observation, interviews, focus groups, and recording of speech patterns for sociolinguistic analysis.