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Usage of Feminine 'Wa' in conversations

Kirisame

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I can't help being curious about the usage of feminine 'wa' in real life and tv productions. I hope this has not been discussed before.

My observations are that some or maybe most female characters in anime tend to add 'wa' at the end of a sentence.

Example : Sumire san in Sakura Taisen OVA 1

I noticed that she frequently ends her sentences most of the time with ...masu wa' in the first episode of ova 1.

This is sometimes true for female actresses in certain japanese dramas. But one thing is that those playing youthful characters generally don't use the feminine 'wa'.

I attended japanese class at a private school some time ago. My teacher in her late thirties, doesn't use the 'wa' when talking to us or her colleagues. Another teacher once commented that they hardly use the feminine 'wa' at all.

Why is it used in anime and dramas if most japanese women of today don't speak that way?
 

epigene

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With economic development and rising power of women in society, the Japanese language is moving more toward neutrality in gender. The only times you hear "wa" used by women is in drama when the female character is supposed to girl with noble and strict upbringing (深窓の令嬢ーしんそうのれいじょう).

Personally, I find the use of "wa" and other feminine usages very nice.
(In youth culture, some girls even speak like boys.)
 

orochi

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Well something that needs to be understood about anime and dramas, and really any art form or publication is that gender roles are stressed very heavily. Men will speak very manly and women will speak very femininely in general. Old characters will speak like old people and young, insolent kids will sound young and insolent.

This doesn't mean that people in real life follow these strict speaking rules, though. It just appears in the media consistently to draw recognizable lines. Plus, female characters using "wa" and other feminine speech patterns, combined with looking attractive will appeal to their main audience, young boys. ;)

In real life, you'll only hear women say "wa" if they have made the conscious decision to do so. There are no rules that say they have to say it.

Also, in some parts of Japan, especially in the Kansai region, men also use "wa." I use it almost all the time as do the Japanese men around me.
 

Elizabeth

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Personally, I find the use of "wa" and other feminine usages very nice.
(In youth culture, some girls even speak like boys.)
特に「だわ」や「かしら」 はめったに使わないね。 😅
Epigene-さんにとっては、かしら、だわなど。。。というのは可愛くていいでしょうか?

Although I've never really paid that much mind to these things, isn't it still much more common for women and girls to use more mildly feminine endings (女の人っぽいの語尾 ?) -- 「よね」 or 「なの」「のよ」 for instance? Even older women use だよ, that's really the only one I'm certain of....*goes off searching through piles of old anime* 😅
 
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epigene

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Elizabeth said:
特に「だわ」や「かしら」 はめったに使わないね。 😌
Epigene-さんにとっては、かしら、だわなど。。。というのは可愛くていいでしょうか?
It's not really "kawaii." It's 美しい. It's actually Japanese as spoken by the people of 山の手, i.e., people belonging to the educated class (maybe also descended from the former nobility) in Tokyo. Although there aren't many any more, there certainly are women who speak this way naturally and without feigned snobbery. (I don't, unfortunately--I feel uncomfortable.)

A modern girl like you don't have to imitate it, but I recommend you at least know how to use 美しい日本語 (or more accurately, 美しい東京言葉). You'll find it spoken by women in the old Ozu Yasujiro movies.

「だよ」 is used by women who want to show that they are equal to men but, in my personal view, is absolutely 美しくない. 😊
 

Elizabeth

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epigene said:
It's not really "kawaii." It's 美しい. It's actually Japanese as spoken by the people of 山の手, i.e., people belonging to the educated class (maybe also descended from the former nobility) in Tokyo. Although there aren't many any more, there certainly are women who speak this way naturally and without feigned snobbery. (I don't, unfortunately--I feel uncomfortable.)
Thanks for that explanation Epigene-san ! Here's an abstract I found which may help everyone understand more on the history of these patterns.

Mariko Bohn

The normative speech associated with Japanese women today has been identified as a product of the Meiji government’s modernization project in the early 20th century. That project included the standardization of the Japanese language and the inculcation into young women of Confucian ideology and the western cult of domesticity (e.g. Inoue 1994, 2002, Nakamura 2003). While the government’s aim of nation-building and industrialization doubtless had a strong influence on the establishment of the modern ideology of women’s language, a closer examination of the so-called women’s language and the contexts in which it was used in the early 20th century reveals other dimensions of women’s speech.

The normative speech of Japanese women has generally been exemplified in previous studies by the use of sentential final particles such as wa and no. Typical users of such particles in the Meiji period were female high-school students in Tokyo, i.e. upper middle class young women of the time. They were indeed the privileged few and they attracted the attention of the public and of novelists and essayists. It is illuminating to note that, as numerous essays and newspaper articles then indicated, the language use of such young women was a target of criticism by older linguistic norm holders (e.g. educators, novelists) as being coarse, crude and unladylike, in contrast to upper-class (samurai) women’s speech in the preceding Edo period. The linguistic style of female students was called “te yo – da wa kotoba (te yo - da wa speech)” from the characteristic sentence final expressions – expressions that were later considered the epitome of normative women’s language. Criticisms toward such ‘crude’ speech and behavior were exemplified in the feature ‘Teyo-dawa story” published in a satirical cartoon magazine of that period. In one revealing cartoon, in which female students playing a Japanese card game are depicted as about to have a fist-fight, the caption quotes “female” expressions now viewed as normative.

(Karuta o) yomiageru to kuma taka manako de tobituku. “Watasi ga saki da wa.” “Watasi ga hayakutte yo.”

‘When a card is read, they (female high school students) throw themselves at the card with the sharp and avaricious eyes of a hawk and a bear. “I was the first.” “I was much quicker.”’
[Tokyo Pakku, 1906]

We examine expressions now associated with normative femininity occurring in novels, magazines, and other print media from the early 20th century in conjunction with other notable expressions of the time (e.g. foreign borrowings), female students’ clothing and hairstyle, and other social behavior. Noting that these sentence final expressions now categorized as ‘feminine’ were part of the vernacular, rather than of the school curriculum, and drawing comparisons with the linguistic novelty of current young Japanese women, we suggest that young female speakers of the Meiji period can be viewed as the trend setters of the era, rather than as passive targets of ideological conditioning, and that further insights into so-called women’s or feminine language become apparent from such an aspect.


I have only really encountered "noyo" "da wa" etc in the 江時代 mangas of    石の森さん, although men of that time had some features of what today would be considered a much more feminine slant to their speech as well (use of "atashi" "no youu nee", "-masu" endings...) while the female ヨタカ use "omae" along with "da". :p
 

-Rudel-

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My fiance seems to use だよ and だよん a lot.  Sometimes. だから
 

epigene

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-Rudel- said:
My fiance seems to use だよ and だよん a lot.  Sometimes. だから
There's nothing wrong talking like that today, especially among friends and with someone as close as you are to your fiancee. "Dakara" is common usage; "dayon" is being cute; "dayo" expresses closeness.

I just wanted people to recognize that the feminine usages in Japanese speech are not outdated or snobbish but actually beautiful. I don't want that kind of speech to go away. :(
 

Kirisame

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Originally posted by epigeneThere's nothing wrong talking like that today, especially among friends and with someone as close as you are to your fiancee. "Dakara" is common usage; "dayon" is being cute; "dayo" expresses closeness.

I just wanted people to recognize that the feminine usages in Japanese speech are not outdated or snobbish but actually beautiful. I don't want that kind of speech to go away
Yes, they are indeed きれいだ。 For example, Thai language have that masculine and feminine distinction in their language too. Sawadekap and Sawadekaa. In fact, I think it would be nice I could get to hear the use of feminine wa 'live' someday. :)  

orochi said:
Also, in some parts of Japan, especially in the Kansai region, men also use "wa." I use it almost all the time as do the Japanese men around me
Not forgetting the men in kansai too. of course we wouldn't call it feminine wa. Call it Emphatic 'wa'
 
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