Gender and Language, Vol 2, No 1 (2008)

Masculinity and National Language: The Silent Construction of a Dominant Language Ideology

Momoko Nakamura
Issued Date: 27 Jun 2008


The notion of a unified Japanese national language was an androcentric language ideology created during the period of Japanese nation-state building in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its association with masculinity, however, was accomplished without being explicitly stated, rendering the national language an unmarked, hegemonic ideology for the entire nation. The implicit masculinization of the national language was constructed in the gendered dispositions between language ideologies. Language ideologies in the period were gendered on three levels, “national language” vs. “feminine speech,” “schoolboy speech” vs. “schoolgirl speech,” and “masculine features” vs. “feminine features,” constructing the strong ties among masculinity, national language, and specific linguistic features. The masculine, unmarked status of the “national language” was negatively created by its asymmetrical relationship with ideologies concerning feminine, marked, and marginalized speech styles or linguistics forms. The asymmetrical disposition of gendered language ideologies formed iconic representations of female and male citizens. Standardization often involves both the construction and marginalization of feminine language varieties, which symbolically invent female citizens as the Inside Other, enabling a highly integrated construction of male citizenship.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.v2i1.25


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