Japanese Manga: Corpus Development and Analysis

Manga is Japanese comics and graphic novels, which are gaining ground with amazing speed in the U.S. and elsewhere. Manga can be used as a good resource for learning Japanese. How close is the language used in Manga to standard Japanese? How can it be used in the Japanese classroom? My research project attempts to answer these questions by building up and analyzing a corpus based upon popular Manga.

As in real life, in Manga, a character’s vocabulary and grammar vary greatly according to the person’s attributes (gender, age, social status, occupations, regions of residence or birthplace, appearance, personality, etc.). An emerging field of linguistics research examines the association between types of characters portrayed and their spoken language features in popular culture and media. Sets of spoken language features and phonetic characteristics psychologically associated with particular character types are called “role language”, yakuwari-go (Kinsui 2003). Their fictional utterances often make these establish character types easily recognizable in Japanese culture, even if actual people fitting these character types may not produce such utterances in real life.

In this project, while exploring the notion of role language to a specific case, by using an analysis tool “Co-Chu”, we build a Manga corpus to answer the above

mentioned questions. We also aim to make a useful word list for most frequently used nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and onomatope for Manga for JSL (Japanese-as-second-language) learners. Once we have built a manga corpus, the results will be compared to the results of Corpus of Everyday Japanese Conversation) compiled by Koiso et al., (2020) in order to examine if/how the language used in Manga is close to Japanese used in everyday conversation.

The impact of this project includes

· Advancing our sociolinguistics knowledge of Japanese as well as understanding of “Role Languages” in pop culture and media.

· Promoting the learning of the Japanese language as well as Japanese culture.

· Releasing the useful word lists for the manga for the students of Japanese, and Anime club at Tech (Anime O-Tecch!).

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Kyoko Masuda
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