Stylistic Variation in Minutes of the Assemblies

Project Leader
NIKAIDO Hitoshi (Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University)

Summary

Background and Purpose

This research reanalyzes the concept of “style” (which in dialectology and sociolinguistics has up until now been treated somewhat simplistically as a linguistic response to the speech situation that can be categorized as “formal” or “casual,” etc.) to be a linguistic construct created by speakers, developing the hypothesis through an examination of “linguistic variation and social meaning” arising from “stance-taking” (that is, the expression of language attitude (ideology) or of the speaker’s psychological disposition or social status). By examining the variation in style that occurs in a number of settings of the committee meetings of the Assembly and the Assembly meeting itself on this basis, I think it will be possible to bring new developments to research on style in Japanese language behavior.

Recent research on style conducted overseas is very active, particularly with respect to qualitative research, but in addition I intend to add quantitative methods, while taking into account the qualitative work on interactive expression and politeness, to clarify the relevance between the construction of style and language variation in a more comprehensive and holistic way,

Furthermore, by organizing the minutes of Assembly meetings into a database, I think that new interactions, not only in the field of linguistics, but in political science and other fields as well, will be encouraged.

Objectives and Methods

This research aims to offer new insights by employing the minutes of the National Assembly and of regional assemblies to conduct analyses on variation in style in Japanese from the standpoint of dialectology, sociolinguistics, and applied linguistics. Assembly meeting minutes differ from the casual style of everyday speech, but settings vary according to a wide range of factors (e.g., the difference in speech situation between Assembly Meetings and committee meetings, the presence of an audience during live broadcasts of the Assembly, etc.), so that, comparisons across these, taking advantage of the availability of video data, among other things, will make it possible to conduct linguistic analyses of style. This research has the two following goals:

  1. To create an environment for linguistic research by developing search tools and a database of the minutes of the national Assembly and of regional assemblies;
  2. To describe the nature of the construction (by variation in language use according to the speaker’s shifting circumstances) of style in Japanese language behavior, building on overseas research trends that treat style as a product of speaker design involving attitudes toward language, and psychological and social stance-taking.