Boku in Edo Epistolary Texts

Date
2005
Authors
れいのるず秋葉, かつえ
Reynolds, Katsue A.
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Published by College of Languages, Linguistics ad Literature, University of Hawai'i, distributed by University of Hawaii Press
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Abstract
This essay is about how boku, a first person pronoun or self-reference form for males, came into existence in Japanese. It appeared rather abruptly in Japanese around the time of the Meiji Restoration, and it has quickly become one of the major male first person pronouns. Although it is apparently of a Chinese origin, its history as a Japanese word is not necessarily clear. How and why did it come into being in Japanese at the time when it did? The paper has examined some texts from the Edo period and brought to light the early history of boku in Japanese. Bringing various linguistic, sociological and historical facts together, it becomes possible to see the way boku entered Japanese. Spread of the use of boku began in personal letters exchanged among close circle of samurai scholars –- forerunners of modern intellectuals.
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male first person pronoun, Chinese-Japanese code switch, solidarity, diglossia, letter writing era
Citation
Ochner, Nobuko and William Ridgeway (eds.) Confluences: Studies from East to West in Honor of V.H. Viglielmo. pp.248-258.Book Review: Japanese language, gender, and ideology edited by Shigeko Okamoto and Janet S. Shobamoto Smith
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11 pages
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