Date of Original Version




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Abstract or Description

The incredible prevalence of English in Japanese media – both in written and spoken form – is at first baffling to a native English speaker. Phrases that seem to make no sense or that are not relevant to what they are attached to are nevertheless seen everywhere: on t-shirts, as part of television advertisements, and in Japanese magazines. Some commentators have argued that the English in Japan is not meant to be understood and that it acts purely as decoration. I argue in this paper that the English found in Japanese media is more complicated than that; sometimes it is mainly decorative but sometimes it is able to communicate as well. I propose that English in Japanese media can be thought of as having two dimensions, one dimension being its decorative function and one dimension being its communicative function. I use this paradigm to analyze the English, or words written in the Roman alphabet, found in Japanese television and magazine advertisements, as well as in the editorial layout of Japanese magazines.


Department of Modern Languages

Yasufumi Iwasaki, advisor