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Focus 5a+6: Sociolinguistics and discourse I


Admission requirements

Japanese majors should normally have followed BA2 Focus Introduction to Japanese Linguistics or BA2 Focus Aspects of Japanese as a Second Language. For students outside of the Japanese program, some background in general/sociolinguistics and (low) intermediate Japanese proficiency is useful.


This course explores the interrelationship between language, culture, and society and covers key topics in sociolinguistics and discourse studies in Japanese contexts, such as: speech varieties, language change, language contact, language policy, language attitude, group-specific language, gender and language use, foreigner-Japanese contact situations, conversational management, discourse structure, and methodology.
Through reading of articles, discussions and presentations, students will become familiar with selected issues in sociolinguistics and discourse studies and develop knowledge and skills for designing and conducting an original study on a topic of their choice in the field. Students are expected to read the materials assigned for the day, use additional sources to those suggested in the course reader and to contribute to the discussions with their own experiences with Japanese (and other familiar languages).
Students will receive guidance on how to conduct independent research on a topic of choice and learn to write and present on a linguistic aspect of contemporary Japanese society in a scholarly fashion in preparation for their BA final essay.

Course objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Acquire an understanding of the social and cultural context of Japan in the analysis of spoken and written Japanese discourse;
  2. Locate and critically present, summarise and discuss readings in the field(s);
  3. Form theoretical and methodological foundations for designing and conducting original research in the field(s).


See: timetable

Mode of instruction

Seminar (werkcollege).

Assessment method

  • Participation element (participation, presentation, presentation write-up, assignments): 30%

  • Review element (literature review 1,000-1,500 words): 20%

  • Research element (research essay 2,500-3,000 words): 30%

  • Summative element (exam): 20%


Course notes and slides, course schedule, assignments, required readings, links, etc.

Reading list

Reader (available at Studiepunt).


Enrollment via uSis is mandatory.

Contact information

Please contact Mw. Dr. R.J. Länsisalmi.