English Loanword Modifiers as a Means for Native vs. Foreign Differentiation in Contemporary Japanese

Abstract

English has had an extensive influence on numerous languages, one of them being Japanese. Historical contact between Japan and Western cultures has resulted in extensive borrowing of new phenomena as well as lexicon. Various sources estimate that 10% of the Contemporary Japanese vocabulary consists of loanwords (Chinese-origin words excluded), and such loanwords are referred to as in __gairaigo__ in Japanese, meaning __words coming from outside__. There are different opinions about the increasing use of loanwords and their substitution for existing native lexicon. However, are foreign loanwords really substituting native lexicon in Japanese? Or, maybe, there are other functions and reasons for borrowing words synonymous to native ones? In the present study we investigate the use of English-based loanword modifiers such as hotto (hot), burakku (black), akutibu (active), etc., that are long-term assimilated to Japanese since they were borrowed in Meiji period (1868-1912) and have corresponding native or Sino-Japanese near synonyms. We have studied the collocation patterns of about 100 of such loanword modifiers using the data from Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese to determine if there are any constraints on their use in nominal phrases (NPs). We argue that despite active and extensive borrowing of English words synonymous to native ones, Japanese language tries to differentiate between native and foreign culture by creating an inventory for the description of foreign-originated phenomena. Therefore, the Japanese language demonstrates the homogeneity of the origin for NPs with loanword modifiers being preferably used to modify loanwords nouns, rather than native nouns.



Author Information
Anna Bordilovskaya, Kobe University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICLLHawaii2016
Stream: Linguistics

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