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Attitudes Towards and Uses of the Japanese Adverbzenzen by Swedish Learners of Japanese
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, English.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The word zenzen is an adverb that is used frequently in daily conversational Japanese. From the Meiji period (1868-1912) until the early Showa period (1924-1989) the word was used together with both affirmative and negative words to form expressions. In the early Showa period the grammatical rules in education changed so that the only acceptable use was together with a negative word. From the 1990’s onward, the use together with an affirmative word has made a comeback especially among younger Japanese people. However even though the usage together with an affirmative word has made a comeback and was considered normal once in history, in today’s society it is still considered as slang and thus not recommended usage in formal situations. Foreign language learners however, tend not to learn a language only by textbooks but also by imitating the language of native Japanese speakers and Japanese popular culture. This may lead to a confusion regarding what words are acceptable to use in conversations. Therefore in this study, an online survey that examines the usage and attitudes regarding the word zenzen aimed at Japanese language learners at Swedish universities was conducted. The results of the survey showed that although a majority of the learners showed a good understanding of the usage, more than half of the learners displayed a feeling of confusion regarding the usage of the word. The gender comparison regarding the usage showed no major differences. Having lived in Japan, having Japanese friends whom you speak Japanese with regularly and length of Japanese study was associated with an increased understanding of the usage. Regular consumption of Japanese popular culture, however, was not associated with an increased understanding of the usage. A literature analysis was also conducted to examine the attitudes regarding the usage of zenzen in a variety of books with topics including business language and books aimed at Japanese language teachers. The results showed that zenzen used together with a negative word was considered as the norm while zenzen used together with an affirmative word was not recommended to be used in formal situations. When recommending proper usage of the word zenzen together with an affirmative word to foreign learners of Japanese, hijou-ni and totemo was seen as better alternatives to zenzen in a formal situation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
linguistics, second language acquisition, word usage, adverb, language variation
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-19264OAI: diva2:851422
Available from: 2015-09-04 Created: 2015-09-04

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