The use of the Japanese epistemic markers ne, kamo and kana with emoticons in an online female Japanese blogging community
First Monday

The use of the Japanese epistemic markers ne, kamo and kana with emoticons in an online female Japanese blogging community by Barry Kavanagh



Abstract
In this paper the functions of the Japanese epistemic markers ne, kamo and kana combined with emoticons were analyzed from a corpus of online personal blog comments. These combinations were divided into how they emphasized solidarity markers or hedges within the blog comments. Results showed that these devices allowed writers to maintain close and interpersonal relationships in a community of practice where mutual interests bring people together and it is argued that this sense of group harmony is a reflection of Japanese culture.

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Japanese epistemic markers
3. Data and methodology
4. Results
5. Discussion
6. Conclusion

 


 

1. Introduction

A Community of Practice (CoP) is defined by Wenger (1998) as a group of people who come together through mutual interests and have an eagerness to learn and participate within the community based on their own experiences. He suggests that a community does not necessitate geographical proximity but there is a need for mutual engagement. This can be done through a bond or topic that brings people together and makes them interact with each other on a regular basis. To maintain the community of practice he states that the members must also have a joint enterprise or some kind of common aim. Finally, this community develops a shared repertoire whereby the members have a unique perspective on their topic.

This study applied Wenger’s CoP framework to a Japanese female blogging community who come together through mutual interests and shared goals. Their use of juxtaposing the epistemic linguistic markers ne, kamo and kana with emoticons was examined in relation to how the writers emphasized their sense of solidarity and support for one another. The analysis will show how these linguistic and non-linguistic combinations are used for pragmatic intent to express rapport and to soften the potential illocutionary force of comments through the use of hedges. The use of these combinations was also examined in relation to how they corresponded to Japanese communication styles.

 

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2. Japanese epistemic markers

Within the Japanese language which follows a Subject + Object + Verb sentence sequence, epistemic markers are predominately found in sentence final endings. Ohta (1991) states that “Epistemic markers are crucial tools in human communication — without them we would not be able to discern fact from conjecture, the speaker’s own ideas from the ideas of another, or even have any idea of how a speaker felt about the information he or she was presenting” [1]. Aoki (1986) suggests that these linguistic markers function to make language more polite and Cook (1988) proposes that the sentence final particle (SFP) ne can highlight the speakers desire for harmonious and amicable interaction.

The three epistemic markers addressed within this paper are listed below:

  1. Ne a tag that can be translated as isn’t he/she;
  2. Kana a doubt marker meaning I wonder; and
  3. Kamo an auxiliary meaning may/might.

The interactional particle ne is a confirmation seeker similar to the English tag expressions such as right? and aren’t you? The fundamental function of ne is to express shared information (Matsuoka, 1991), which can include requesting confirmation and seeking or showing agreement.

The use of the ne has often been linked with spoken interaction or within informal language, but can also be used in written communications where interaction is taking place. Maynard (1997) states that ne acts in a way so that the speaker and listener may communicate with each other in an emotional and empathy creating way.

Cook’s (1992) suggests that ne directly indexes affective common ground between the speaker and the addressee and that it can play a role in both the mitigating of a face threatening act and the marking of intimacy.

Japanese language learning dictionaries (Makino and Tsutsui, 1989) describe kana as a particle that expresses doubt in a light exclamatory tone and can be translated into the English ‘I wonder’. It can indicate a tentative question or uncertainty at the end of a sentence. Kana has been traditionally seen as a doubt marker that displays the speaker’s ambiguity about their assertion or judgment.

Kamo or the full non-polite version of kamo shirenai along with the polite version kamoshiremasen is a part of the Japanese language modal system of suffixes. Kamo expresses weak possibility (Kabata and Ono, 2014). It can be described as an epistemic modal that indicates that the 100 percent possibility of the proposition has yet to be confirmed and therefore the possibility of it being true or otherwise is left open to interpretation. Maynard (1997) writes that this epistemic modal expresses speculation equalivant to the English expression might / (may) be and Yang and Cao (2005) claim that its usage allows speakers to avoid strongly assertive or judgmental assertions.

2.1. Japanese emoticons

The majority of text-based online communication is void of non-verbal communication. When visual and audio equipment, such as webcams and microphones are not used, the expression of emotion and feeling are therefore greatly limited in comparison to physical face-to-face communication. Crystal (2006) writes: “Addressing someone on the Internet is a bit like having a telephone conversation in which the listener is giving you no reactions at all” [2]. The emoticon originally aimed to add an emotional and visual presence to online communication and can be traced back to 1982 and the Japanese version called kaomoji which literally means face letter / mark followed a few years later with the basic text-based emoticon of ^_^

The Japanese text-based emoticon is written front facing as opposed to the western sideways depiction. As Yuki, et al. (2007) note, Japanese express their emotions through their eyes while westerners tend to express their emotions mainly through the expression of the mouth.

The roots of some of the more basic Japanese kaomoji can be found to be originating from manga or Japanese comics (Kavanagh, 2012b). To give an example, the countenance in the anime character in Figure 1 of a crying face is similar to the emoticon T_T, the tops of the T represent the eyes and the vertical line down the T signify the tears and the underscore between the Ts is the mouth.

 

An example of how emoticons reflect Japanese anime
 
Figure 1: An example of how emoticons reflect Japanese anime.

 

Table 1 illustrates some of the most commonly used text-based emoticons in Japanese online text-based communications.

 

Table 1: Japanese text basic emoticons (kaomoji).
Note: Adapted from Kavanagh (2015).
(^_^)/Hi!(>_<")Ouch!
(^^)A basic smile(';')A baby face
(^O^)To be glad(~o~)A yawning face
^_^;To be in a cold sweat<^_^; -Embarrassed, scratching one’s head
(/--)/The exclamation: Oh no!(/_;)/Embarrassment
(;_;)To cry or sob(T_T)Crying/expression of sadness
(^_-)---A winkm(._.)mTo bow

 

These emoticons can be done in multiple ways on a keyboard of a home computer or on a smart phone. The majority of phones in Japan have emoticons pre-installed and can be selected from a drop-down menu.

Most studies on the western emoticon have looked at how emoticons are used to convey writer emotion and act in the same way as actual non-verbal facial expressions found in face-to-face communication (Derks, et al., 2008, 2007; Provine, et al., 2007). Other studies have examined impression formation through extra-linguistic signs. Those who use emoticons, for example, are perceived as being friendlier, more interesting and creative (Huffaker and Calvert, 2005; Harris and Paradice, 2007). Few studies have looked at the pragmatic function of emoticons (Dresner and Herring, 2010; Kavanagh, 2012a; Vandergriff, 2014), or their link to highlighting politeness strategies (Kavanagh, 2016, 2010).

Within the Japanese language literature Harada (2004) states that Japanese emoticons have three main roles. These roles are:

  1. They are fun to use;
  2. They can easily express ones emotions; and
  3. They can change the image of the utterance to make it sound softer or kinder.

Togarashi (1997) found that in informal online dialogue the use of emoticons vastly increased the intimacy levels of an interaction. Similarly Kawauchi (1990) found that the use of emoticons softens the content of a message and strengthens intimacy between conversational partners. These studies suggest that the role of the emoticon can be a complex one and not simply an icon of emotion as the name would suggest.

This paper aims to show how the importance of context, interpersonal communication, community cohesion and pragmatic intention are factors that should not be ignored when examining the usage of these extra-linguistic signs. No studies however, within the English or Japanese language literature, have examined how emoticons in conjunction with epistemic markers can emphasize pragmatic intent and in the process create an online harmonious community.

In addition, the importance of maintaining harmony (wa), which is often attributed to Japanese communication styles (Doi, 1996, 1973; Midooka, 1990), may also be an influential factor in the usage of emoticons. Japan is described as a collectivist society (Gudykunst and Nishida, 1994) and Kim (1994) writes that members of collective cultures are concerned with not hurting others or imposing on them. How then is this reflected within these online blogging communities and their emoticon usage? This is a largely ignored area of study.

The two main research questions below aim to address the issues outlined above:

  1. In what way does the juxtaposition of epistemic markers and emoticons index pragmatic function and how do these combinations promote online interpersonal communication and a sense of online community?
  2. How do cultural factors influence the use of emoticons?

 

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3. Data and methodology

The blog corpora consisted of 50 Japanese blogs. Blogs were taken from the blog ranking site Nihon burogu mura which ranks personal blogs as a whole based upon how many hits the blog receives. The Web site also divides and ranks blogs according to the theme of the blog. The 50 blogs were selected from the 子育て kosodate or child rearing category and chosen from the top ranked blogs over monthly intervals. This ensured that the same blogs were not selected. The most popular child rearing themed blogs were predominately written by women and therefore only female-authored blogs are within this study’s data set.

Five blog posts per blog were selected starting from the latest entry. The author gender of the blogs was verified based on the blog profile and blog content. Blog posts usually centered on child rearing, but other topics such as the family, work, pets, cooking and hobbies were also often a topic of the blog entries. These blogs refrained from controversial topics or politics and were written as personal musings or interests that centered on child rearing and the daily lives of the mothers.

The blog profiles gave very little information on the blog author with the exception of gender and a blog handle name that the writer uses as their online identity. Age and occupation could be estimated based on the content of the blog itself and within this sample the bulk of female authored blogs tended to be written by housewives in their thirties with young children. Blogs were usually written daily and invited comments at the end of their entries. These popular blogs gained an extensive following of ‘fans’, commenting on each other’s blogs, leading to the formation of these online blog communities.

Blog comments that were punctuated with epistemic markers juxtaposed to an emoticon were selected from the blog comment corpus and analyzed for the pragmatic function they highlighted. This was achieved by addressing the context that they were found in. In total over 400 epistemic markers + emoticon combinations were extracted from the corpus. There are a variety of emoticons and emoji within Japanese discourse (Nishimura, 2003), and blog comments (Kavanagh, 2012a). Within this study however, epistemic markers were predominately used with text based emoticons such as ^^; as opposed to colorful emoji or smilies and therefore only used within this analysis.

The blogs that were selected for analysis were all female authored and women also wrote the overall majority of blog comments. Some blog comments had a handle name and also a link attached which allows you to go to the comment writer’s blog to verify the writer’s gender but this was not always the case. Some comments had no links or were written annomoyosly and so the gender of the writer could not be determined. Therefore, comments that were verified as written by women were only included.

The emoticons within the data sample were examined according to the communicative function they expressed when attached to the epistemic markers ne, kana and kamo. They were classified into how they functioned as solidarity markers and hedges as explained below.

Solidarity markers

Solidarity markers are strategies that stress common ground between interlocutors (Brown and Levinson, 1987). This common ground can act as a foundation for building rapport and intimate relations between conversational partners. Within the corpus these markers were used to show commonality between blog users and a sense of support for one another. Solidarity markers were broken down into jokes, compliments and markers of support.

Jokes are described as speech acts that can stress mutual and shared background (Brown and Levinson, 1987) and compliments are used as politeness strategies to express friendship and build solidarity between the complimenter and the complimentee (Holmes, 1995). The markers of support were based on Brown and Levinson’s (1987) positive politeness framework. They suggest that positive politeness aims to find common ground by emphasizing that both the speaker and hearer want the same thing and have a common goal. Within the data such strategies manifested themselves as expressing approval, interest and sympathy with others in the blog community.

Hedges

The function of hedges are linguistic devices such as the English expression ‘might / may’ or the Japanese epistemic markers kana (I wonder) or kamo (might /may be) that aim to soften the tone of an utterance. They can be defined as having the following functions:

  1. The modification (softening) of the illocutionary (communicative) force of an utterance (Namsaraev, 1997); and
  2. To show warmth and establish rapport (Fraser, 2010).

Using the definitions above emoticons attached to epistemic markers were classified into solidarity markers and hedges and these combinations were counted. The epistemic marker + emoticon pairing was then further analyzed with reference to how their usage relates to the CoP framework and how cultural and politeness factors can be seen as one of the motivating factors in their usage.

 

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4. Results

Solidarity markers

Overall there were 339 ne + emoticon combinations categorized as solidarity markers. 270 instances were used as markers of support. The second highest frequency of 40 instances, were used to highlight and punctuate compliments. This was followed by jokes. Solidarity markers highlighted by the kana + emoticon or kamo + emoticon combinations were not found.

 

Table 2: Epistemic markers + emoticons that emphasized solidarity.
Pragmatic functionNumber of Ne + emoticon combinationsNumber of Kana + emoticon combinations
Jokes294
Markers of support2700
Compliments400

 

Ne + emoticon solidarity marker examples

Jokes

1. 嘘ばっかりだね (≧∇≦)
uso bakari da ne (≧∇≦)
Nothing but lies hey

This is a lighthearted example by the comment writer concerning the blog writers husband who was caught out by his wife (the blog author) telling lies about what he ate the previous day. (He is supposed to be on a diet but was caught eating out at McDonald’s). The ne is used to show a sense of affinity with the reader and the emoticon depicts laughter that further reinforces the intention of the comment as joke. The emoticon (≧∇≦) within the example is used to express happiness or laughter. On either side of the nose are eyes with creases underneath emphasizing a laughing or joyful countenance.

Markers of support

2. 大変ですね^^: こうちゃんさん・・・。
Taihen desu ne^^koucyansan
That’s tough hey^^ kouchan san

In example two the ne plus emoticon emphasizes the feelings of compassion towards the reader with regards to a tough schedule that the blog author has undergone. Within her blog post the blogger discusses the fact that she has to get up at five a.m. and drive her children to a soccer tournament that is quite a distance from her home. To prepare for this she has to make lunches for her boys and laments the fact that her husband is away on a business trip. The comment writer sympathizes with her situation and punctuates her comment with ^^ a basic smile as shown through the eyes.

3. 子供って不思議だよね><
Kodomo tte fushigi da yo ne
Children can be very confusing hey><

Example three comes from a blog post about child rearing and the problems that are associated with it. The example ends with the sentence final particle ne in additional to the emoticon. Cook (1992) states that the particle ne does not function to only highlight agreement but also to express a common grounding with their listener and acts as a marker of solidarity. This example shows the pragmatic intent of the writer to express agreement with the blog writer’s ideas and opinions within the post through the use of ne. This is further strengthened with the emoticon that expresses empathy, friendliness and a common ground between the two online interlocutors. The emoticon of >< expresses laughing or smiling as shown through the shape of the eyes.

4. おかえりなさ~いヽ(^o^)丿
イタリアの美味しいものの話も楽しみに待ってますねぇ^^
体調、崩れていませんかぁ?
無理しない程度に頑張って下さいね^^
Okaerinasai(^o^)丿
Itaria no oishii mono no hanashi mo tanoshimi ni mattemasunee^^
Taicyou, kuzureteimasenkaa?
Muri shinai teido ni gannbatte kudasai ne^^
Welcome back (^o^)丿
Give me something to nibble on
Waiting to hear all about your Italian travels^^
Take it easy, good luck but don’t overdo it.

Example four above has two instances of the ne plus emoticon combination, one in line two and the other in the following line. The second line expresses the anticipation that the writer has in hearing about the blog author’s Italian travels with her family but the third line shows concern for the author’s physical well being, wishes her good luck but tells her not to overdo it. Both of these instances show support and concern for the blog author and the ne plus emoticon pattern here can be described as markers of solidarity.

Kana + emoticon examples

Jokes

5. Yossyさんの納豆チャーハンで作って見ました(*´∇`*).
Yossyさんが作る方が美味しい^^かな。(´艸`)
Yossy san no natto cya-han de tsukutte mimashita (*´∇`*)
Yossy san ga tsukuru hou ga oishii ^^ kana (´艸`)
I Made Yossy’s natto fried rice.
I wonder if the way you (Ms Yossy) make it is delicious(´艸`)

The blog author Ms Yossy or Yossy san writes a blog predominately about the cooking that she does for her family, posts new recipes on her blog and has a reputation of making exceedingly good dishes. The comment writer has made her own version of the natto fried rice before. She has now made it according to the blog author’s recipe and jokingly asks if the way Ms Yossy has made the dish is delicious. The comment is punctuated by kana and a laughing emoticon that attempts to tell the reader that the comment is to be interpreted as a joke. The comment is clearer when put into its context. The comment writer always criticizes her own cooking and makes fun of her own culinary skills. The (´艸`) emoticons is used to express delight, and is adopted from the Chinese character 艸 which is read as kusa or sou and was used in ancient writing. It has now been replaced by 草 kusa meaning grass. With the added parenthesis and the punctuation marks either side of the 艸 Chinese character the emoticon is made to resemble a face which is used to mean chuckling and giggling.

Requests as markers of support using ne + emoticon

The pattern of ne plus emoticon included what I have termed ‘requests as markers of support’ which end in kudasai ne plus emoticon. There were numerous instances of these ‘request’ like comments that ended in the て te form of the verb followed by ください kudasai meaning please do something (for me) which is dependent on what verb is being used.

They are not requests in the traditional sense but address the reader’s positive face and are written with the aim of expressing support and solidarity. The inclusion of the SFP ne acts as a softener of the honorific kudasai making it more affable which is further emphasized by a friendly (usually smiling) emoticon which adds a sense of intimacy and recognition with the reader as in the following examples.

6. 免許取得頑張って下さいね~(*^_^*)
♪でもケガしないで下さいね~ヽ(^o^󿀉
menkyo syutoku gannbatte kudasai nee (*^_^*)
demo kega shinaide kudasai neeヽ(^o^)丿
Do your best in getting your bike license (*^_^*)
But make sure you don’t get injured ヽ(^o^󿂉丿
7. 体調大丈夫ですか???
ゆっくりリラックスTIME作ってくださいね><)b
taicyou daijyoubu desuka???
Yukkuri rirakkusu TIME tsukutte kudasai ne><)b
How are you feeling?
Please make sure you give yourself a bit of relaxing time><)b

Example six wishes the blog author good luck in trying to get their motorcycle license. The ne SFP includes a dash ~ to elongate the sound to nee indicating rising intonation which is punctuated with a smiling emoticon that gives the blog author a sense of the blog comment writer’s tone. Example seven shows concern for the welfare of the blog writer (reader) and asks them to take time out to relax which is softened by the particle ne and the emoticon ><)b where the b part indicates a thumbs up.

Hedging

The use of kamo + emoticon and kamo combination were predominately used as hedges as the data shows below.

 

Table 3: Epistemic markers + emoticons that emphasized hedges.
 Number of Kana + emoticon combinationsNumber of Kamo + emoticon combinations
Hedging3435

 

Kamo + emoticon examples

8. 確かにたらこの冷製パスタって食べた事ないかも^^;
でも間違いなく美味しそうですね☆
tashikani tarako no reisei pasutatte tabeta koto nai kamo ^^;
demo machigaenaku oishisou desu ne
I haven’t eaten cold cod roe pasta^^;
But it certainly looks delicious.

The emoticon ^^; as used in the above example depicts cold sweat on the side of its face and reflects a form of Japanese communication that emphasizes a hedging device or to indicate embarrassment. It was used predominantly if the writer felt that what was being written was too negative in tone or to soften an utterance that may be considered too assertive or strong. The above comment is in relation to the bloggers post about a cold cod roe pasta that she has made and uploaded a photo of it. The comment writer has never eaten it she hedges this statement with the kana plus ^^; emoticon to avoid potential offence and follows this up with “it certainly looks delicious”.

Kamo, Kana + emoticon

Example nine below shows how the writer hedges the feelings they have as to whether they can cook a chicken recipe that is punctuated with kamo and an emoticon. It could be suggested here that this combination is used to index author embarrassment at their inability to cook or as an expression of the Japanese cultural value of modesty.

9. 鶏肉が苦手だから、ハードル高いかも(^^;)
tori niku ga nigate da kara, ha-doru takai kamo (^^;)
Not really good with chicken so it might be too high a hurdle for me (^^;)

Example ten below aims to emphasize the writers hedging of their own ability to make ‘cat cookies’ and again reflects modesty on behalf of the author.

10. 可愛い猫のクッキーですね
試してみよかなできるかな^^;
kawaii neko no kukki- desu ne
tameshite miyo kana dekiru kana ^^;
Cute cat cookies hey, think I will give them a try,
wonder if I can make them ^^;

 

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5. Discussion

The results within this blog comment data sample show that these emoticons acted as visual aids as to how the comments were to be read pragmatically and how the author wished to be perceived. These visual emoticons helped to reinforce the linguistic intention of the comment and to help create fun and light online interaction. The following discusses the results in relation to the two research questions that aimed to examine 1) how the epistemic marker emoticon pairing index pragmatic function; 2) how they can aid in the promotion of a sense of community; and 3) how cultural factors influence their usage.

The ne + emoticon combination was the most frequently found pattern within the data. Its usage helped to emphasize support, empathy and approval for the blog author. The ne acted as a linguistic device to show the attitude of the speaker towards the utterance and was reinforced by the visual extra-linguistic sign.

Kana and kamo were used as hedging devices when juxtaposed with an emoticon. This extra-linguistic sign helped to add a visual sense to how the writer was feeling towards the utterance and reader. This combination reduced the illocutionary force of the comment and on most occasions was used to downplay the writer’s ability, a show of modesty, or to index embarrassment at not being able to achieve a given task. This hedging plus emoticon usage within the Japanese data could be found to be used in relation to the Japanese concept of 「遠慮」 enryo or reserve. Wierzbicka (1991) characterizes enryo as a word that describes one of the greatest Japanese cultural values. Chiu, et al. (2011) suggests that this modesty norm also “tends to be salient in a non-competitive situation where maintenance of interpersonal harmony is the goal” [3]. This notion is reflected within these female blogging societies.

In general these personal blogging communities from which the blogs stem are ‘peaceful’ in nature, and members have come together online through common interests such as child rearing and cooking and therefore in their nature promote a sense of bonding online through these mutual interests. This can be described as the core of a Community of practice (CoP).

Wenger (1998) states that the characteristics of a CoP consist of mutual engagement, joint enterprise and a shared repertoire. Naidoo and Vernillo (2014) suggests that the CoP create a shared identity through engaging in and contributing to the practices of their communities. The regular interaction between these bloggers adheres to this principle of mutual engagement. Their community focuses on child rearing and the lifestyles of these young Japanese mother’s with young children. Bloggers posted on each other’s blogs and through this a close-knit community emerged. Through their interactions the writers aimed to share ideas in relation to their common interests and goals. This can refer to their joint enterprise of helping each other as young mother’s bringing up their young children, cook and combine a family life with their own personal hobbies.

The third characteristic of a CoP, shared repertoire can be related to community specific characteristics such as speech patterns or linguistic habits (Jucker and Kopaczyk, 2013). Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (1992) write that: “Speakers develop linguistic patterns as they engage in activity in the various communities in which they participate” and “The symbolic value of a linguistic form is taken as given, and the speaker simply learns it and uses it, either mechanically or strategically” [4].

Within this close-knit female blogging community the use of epistemic markers and emoticons which were littered throughout the data and could be seen as the normal practice of this speech community and how they interact with each other. They were used ‘strategically’ not simply as a means of expressing emotion but to index being part of a community practice and their identity as belonging to that group.

The examples from the data can also be viewed in relation to how they correspond to Japanese communication styles and politeness theory. Haugh (2004) divides Japanese politeness into the categories of Teinei and Reigi. Teinei refers to showing warmth (teatsui), kindness (shinsetsu) and courtesy (nengoro) towards others. Reigi on the other hand is polite behavior that shows upward respect (keii) that is based on social position (mibun), rank (chii), quality of character (jinkaku) of others, and shows modesty (hikaeme) about oneself, in stipulation with social norms (sahoo).

Haugh suggests that politeness in Japanese is dependent on the perceptions of what others show they think of themselves and us. In particular, to show that you think well of others but also not to think too highly of yourself (self-orientated politeness). He states that to be well mannered and to show consideration to others feelings in Japanese is connected to the notion of reigi or upward respect (keii). These concepts can be related to how emotions juxtaposed to epistemic markers were deployed. Solidarity markers aimed to show warmth (teatsui), kindness (shinsetsu) and courtesy (nengoro) towards their fellow bloggers with comments of support and encouragement. Data examples that were used as hedges can be related to the concept about modesty (hikaeme) about oneself, in accordance with social norms (sahoo). Wakimoto (2006), for example, states that Japanese culture emphasizes modesty and the enhancement of importance of others when compared to the self. This can be related to self-orientated politeness whereby you show that you think well of others but also not think too highly of yourself. The epistemic marker plus emoticon pairings within this data shared the commonality of emphasizing this in an environment where visual and auditory cues are absent.

 

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6. Conclusion

The aim of combining these linguistic and non-linguistic devices regardless of whether they indexed solidarity markers or hedging was to maintain a harmonious environment with fellow blog users and to create a CoP that embraces and encourages each other in their blog writing endeavor.

This behavior however may be specific to this online community, a CoP where enjoyable fun interactions are the primary reason users converge and interact with people of similar interests. The use of these epistemic markers and emoticons may be out of place in another online community that exhibits differing norms and values or community of practice.

In online interactions the interlocutor is essentially invisible and the visual and audio cues that give us better understanding of the speaker’s pragmatic intentions are absent. It is argued that the pragmatic function of an epistemic marker juxtaposed with an emoticon creates a positive and harmonious online environment that in turn fosters the development of intimate and friendly interactions. This, it is argued, is a reflection of Japanese communication styles that places a great emphasis on group harmony (Maynard, 1997; Lebra, 1976) specifically, the sharing of common ground and camaraderie. End of article

 

About the author

Barry Kavanagh has a Ph.D. in linguistics from the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies at Tohoku University, Japan. He also works as an English and linguistics lecturer at Tohoku University and his main research interests are within the fields of sociolinguistics and pragmatics.
E-mail: kavanagh [dot] barry [dot] e7 [at] tohoku [dot] ac [dot] jp

 

Notes

1. Ohta, 1991, p. 212.

2. Crystal, 2006, p. 44.

3. Chiu, et al., 2011, p. 527.

4. Eckert and McConnel-Ginet, 1992, p. 9.

 

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Editorial history

Received 3 July 2017; accepted 7 November 2017.


Copyright © 2017, Barry Kavanagh. All Rights Reserved.

The use of the Japanese epistemic markers ne, kamo and kana with emoticons in an online female Japanese blogging community
by Barry Kavanagh.
First Monday, Volume 22, Number 12 - 4 December 2017
http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/8008/6571
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i112.8008





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