Identity Construction of International Students in Japan: L2 Japanese Speakers' Meta-Awareness of Their Positioning in Interaction

Hanaoka, Vera Elisabeth Wiener
Yoshimi, Dina R.
East Asian Language & Literature
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ABSTRACTThis dissertation examines how L2 Japanese speaker international students experience their subjectivity (Harré & Gillett, 1994), that is, how their language use and actions convey their thoughts and feelings, their sense of self, and how they relate to the world around them, in casual conversations with L1 Japanese speaker peers. In order to investigate L2 speaker subjectivity, this study analyzes audio-video conversation and interview data to determine 1) L2-L1 Japanese speaker pairs’ jointly accomplished identity construction achieved through their positioning (Davies & Harré, 1990) in interaction, 2) L2 Japanese speakers’ folklinguistic theories—lay theories about language use— (Imai, Nojima & Okada, 2012; Miller & Ginsburg, 1995) about such positioning, and 3) L2 Japanese speakers’ meta-awareness, evidenced by their descriptions of their theories of how discursive, pragmatic, and semiotic resources are utilized in positioning. The study participants used a) the first-person masculine pronouns boku and ore, and the first-person neutral pronoun watashi, b) the Kansai dialect of Western Japan perceived nationwide as frank and humorous, and c) the boke-tsukkomi (fool-straight man) comedic routine as resources for positioning. Drawing on these three categories of resources, the L2-L1 Japanese speaker pairs construct a relationship through their mutual acceptance of storylines (Davies & Harré, 1990, van Langenhove & Harré, 1999) that form the basis of their positioning. An analysis of the participants’ folklinguistic theories indicated that they had highly descriptive meta-awareness of Kansai dialect, moderately descriptive meta-awareness of first-person pronouns, and rudimentary meta-awareness of the boke-tsukkomi comedic routine. The findings of this dissertation contribute to the scholarship on L2 speaker identity construction and language learning ideology, both through what they elucidate about the participants’ positioning in interaction and their folklinguistic theories about such positioning, and through the investigation of the under-researched demographic of highly proficient international student sojourners. The study’s novel methodology, of interviewing the L2-L1 participant pairs together using a stimulated-recall protocol with video stimuli generated from their conversation sessions, facilitated a situated and detailed analysis of their ideologies surrounding their identity construction. This dissertation provides further concrete evidence that L2 speakers are holistic individuals who use their L2 to form complex social pasts, presents, and futures, and to have interactions and to construct relationships are that “meaningful and consequential” (Firth & Wagner, 2007), laying the groundwork for future interactions and relationships based on shared social history with their L1 speaker peers.
Linguistics, beliefs, folklinguistic theories, identity construction, L2 Japanese language learners, L2 Japanese speakers, positioning
396 pages
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