Aspects of Japanese discourse structure

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Still, when the assignments pile up, I think I am going to die. I have lived alone since I entered college, so I have had to take on the responsibility of doing everything, that's true. But at the same time, I am free, and I have a pretty good time. I also remember that the minute classes at college seemed extremely long at first. Now they seem okay. J1, 2 minutes 34 seconds. OK, number four. High school and college are, are completely different, for me anyway.

Um, high school my first two years I was doing everything, into everybody's business, going, um, here, going there. Couple of, some stuff happened to me that summer and, um, my high school life kind of changed. I dropped back from being so, um, involved with what I was doing at the time and I kind of just, you know, got into myself. I got a job, and just would you know go to school, to my job, made some friends at my job. We'd go out, um, and not really do much, I was a real home-body, because, um, I didn't, I decided I didn't like the people at my school and, um, I got along with everyone, I was the person who was just, I was friends with all the different types of groups.

I was friends with the jocks and the cough the metal heads, or whatever you want to call it. I mean, I was still friends with everybody, I just didn't go out with them like I used to. College life, like my first two years at college, I went to community college and lived at home, so it was just like high school, I, um, still had my same job, my same friends, um, was still a real home-body, but I was, like, I was going to school more, and working later hours and more hours, trying to get more money to save up, and, um, so my first two years of college was exactly like my high school, like except for I didn't have to see the same people from high school, which was just fine with me, and then I came out here to St.

Estate, and my life changed drastically. I was now living in a house. I didn't want to live in the dorms, so I was living a house with two girls I didn't know and my cousin, who um, who had gone, you know, had gone to school here and was telling me I should come up here, and it's pretty safe away from where I'm from, so it was interesting.

The people, they look different, they talk different, um, not only was, you know, I wasn't used to the real big campus, um,? We have the fraternities and the sonorities and the football guys and the basketball guys. I met so many, I met such an array of people, um, those little shocks to my system. They were always going out, introducing me to so many people.

It was a lot of fun. I, I really enjoy it a lot more than high school, or my first two years at the community college, because you, I just go out and I do more stuff. I'm more independent.

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I don't rely on, my family. Like I would go home, I'd always, you know, go home and talk to Mom and stuff, and I hang out there, and now I just, I find things to do, to keep my time going. School takes up a lot of that, especially with clinic, and, um, I try to get my stuff done, so I can hang out with my friends, or go to the park with my dog and my animals, but it's really different and I really like it. I mean sometimes it's bad, but you always take the good with the bad you know and life goes on, as they say, um, let's go.

A3, 3 minutes 32 seconds. In the following section we will examine the data and discuss the specific discourse-level features which we observed, some of which were applicable to oral texts in general, while others apply more particularly to comparisons. These samples show the two prominent strategies which subjects used for beginning their oral comparisons.

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One strategy was to present a topic sentence at the beginning to let the listener know what the comparison was going to be about, as in the American example above. Another strategy, exemplified by the Japanese speaker's text, was to start off talking about the details of either high school life or college life, and not reveal till later what aspect of the school or college life was going to be the focus of the comparison.

Here are two further examples of these opening gambits. High school life seemed to me, um, easy, stress-free, fun, just real easy-going compared to college life, which seems, um, very stressful and, um, really hectic and, you know, a lot of responsibility than like high school was for me, and I do a lot more studying in college than I ever did in high school and did next to none in high school In my high school days, all I did was club activities, and when I was done with that, I had to study for entrance exams, so I didn't enjoy it much at all, then when I became a college student, I started to have more free time.

And, because I live by myself, it is a lot more enjoyable than my high school life There was perhaps a third type of beginning, in which the speaker appears to be embarking on a topic sentence about school and college life but the point of the comparison actually remains ambiguous. We could perhaps call this a "fake" topic sentence and one such opening came from A12, as follows I'm going to be comparing high school life with college life. For me when I was in high school, I tried hard, I accomplished much. I was a good student and generally produced A's in my classes.

I was never the type of person that took really hard classes though, just what I needed to get by The frequency of occurrence of these different kinds of opening strategy can be seen in Table 1. Six Japanese speakers and nine American speakers used topic sentences at the beginning of their comparisons and then went on to talk about details later. Four Japanese speakers and two American speakers started talking about the details of either high school life or college life, without any topic sentence.

3.2 Case 2: Moon’s fixed expression and idioms

This might suggest that American speakers tend to use topic sentences to begin their extended oral texts more than Japanese speakers do, but the difference is not statistically significant, given the size of the sample. However, in view of the fact that Japanese discourse patterns are not generally considered to have this kind of top down structure and explicitness, it is interesting that half of the Japanese speakers in our experiment started their comparison with a topic sentence, although as we have said, this ratio was still less than the American group.

The ending strategies also reveal two prominent patterns. These were announcing the ending and finishing with a conclusion. In our samples, six Japanese speakers and four English speakers announced the ending explicitly, as shown in Table 2. This finding agrees with Watanabe's study on differences in group discussion discourse She found that Japanese groups officially announced the end of a discussion while American groups did not. Our results concur with her findings but do not perhaps constitute a statistically significant proof on their own.

Written Discourse Analysis: Investigation and Implications

Although "hai" is often translated as "yes", it is also used to mark discourse unit boundaries. In the above example we suggest it functions as verbal punctuation, marking the end of the text. The subjects had been asked to talk about five topics of which the comparison was the fourth. At this stage then, the speaker probably means merely that she was ready to move to the last topic. The second noticeable feature at the end of the texts is a conclusion.

Linguistic Creativity in Japanese Discourse

Ten out of twelve American speakers presented conclusions as opposed to only seven speakers in the Japanese group. We categorized three kinds of conclusion:. The most common type of conclusion in the Japanese group is mentioning what college life means to them.

Discourse analysis

Four Japanese speakers and one American speaker concluded their talk in this way. The examples are as follows:. The most common type of conclusion in the American group is a summary of the comparison. Seven out of twelve American speakers used this strategy, but none of the Japanese speakers did, which is a significant result. The phrases the American speakers used were:. The third type of conclusion was a kind of value judgment.

Three Japanese and two American speakers finished their talk by saying what one should do in college life or our life. The phrases they used were as follows. In that sense, now we have restrictions for ourselves in ourselves, which is a different kind of restrictions from what we had before. I believe that through perseverance, that when I get my degree, that I will be in a fulfilling career, that I can feel an accomplishment when I've done something and that I've helped someone else, and that I've helped mankind to be better and to do more than they could have done if they didn't have me, and that's what I want to do, and I want to be able to feel good about that, and what I do In this data, the content of the Japanese value-judgement conclusions and those of the Americans, is interestingly different.

All three of the Japanese speakers say what they should do as college students, whereas both of the Americans talk about their philosophy of life. Summarizing our discussion of the endings then, we can say that Japanese speakers had a tendency to announce the ending more explicitly than American speakers did.

Most American speakers presented conclusions while only half the Japanese speakers did. The content of the American conclusions were typically summarizing the comparison between high school life and college life, while the Japanese speakers talked about what college life meant to them or what they should do during college days.

The two opening strategies mentioned earlier are perhaps signals of two different organizations of the texts. Using the same terms as Watanabe , we shall call these organizations "briefing" and "storytelling". The former is a more objective style, which uses general and abstract statements. It is signaled by a topic sentence near the beginning of the text, followed by supporting arguments and examples.

Consistent with Watanabe's findings, the majority of the Americans in our study used this organization strategy. They maintained the abstract nature of what they were saying with extensive use of the "you", meaning "one" or "everyone", as the subject pronoun. Consider the following example. When comparing high school life with college life probably the first thing that has to be said is the classes.

In high school, you are, forced to go to seven classes for seven hours a day. It starts at in the morning and you go all day until , and it's different from college because, um, er, college if you want to sleep in till noon, you can, you don't have to schedule your classes until one if you want.

There's no set, um, there's no set schedule when you have to go to class.

You make your own schedule, and, also There's no, erm, sanctions on whether you go or not at college. It's totally your choice. If you want to sleep in that day, then your parents aren't there to If you want to schedule three classes a day that's only, that's only three hours that you have to be at school A Personal stories are used sparingly and if they are, they usually occur only in support of some previously stated generalization. To illustrate this point, look at these examples which come from the continuation of the above text.

I hardly ever opened a book when I was in high school. My senior year I did, but, um, it's nothing like when you go to college. I, I studied, I've studied more probably the first semester I was in school than I did the whole time I went through elementary or high school. It's, er, it's a big shock knowing that I, for my first final, my freshman year, I studied 12 hours for one test and I never studied like that in high school A Notice how she switches between a general statement, signaled by the use of "it" and "you", and personal episodes, signaled by "I", which support them.

The personal details are relevant only to the point that is being made. For instance we are not told what she did instead of studying during her secondary education. We are only that she did not study. That is her point and that is all she says. Japanese subjects on the other hand, started with a personal story and lead up to some general point.

As we have said previously, the point of the discourse may not become apparent until some time into the story.

Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure
Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure
Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure
Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure
Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure
Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure
Aspects of Japanese discourse structure Aspects of Japanese discourse structure

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