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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 (e.g. gendered/group-specific language, regional variation, politeness), language change, language contact, language planning & policies, language attitudes & identity, conversational management, discourse structure and methodology. Through required readings, discussions, presentations and practical assignments, 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 readings 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 thesis.

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 of assigned readings/assignments, presentation write-up): 20% – Application of theory (practical assignments): 20% – Review element (critical literature review 1,000-1,500 words): 20% – Research element (research essay 2,500-3,000 words): 40%


Course notes, slides, syllabus, schedules, assignments, instructions, links, required readings, etc, see Blackboard

Reading list

  1. Coulmas, Florian. 2005. Sociolinguistics: The study of speakers’ choices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (paperback)
    1. Additional readings to be announced in the beginning of the course


Enrollment via uSis is mandatory.

Contact information

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


Students not majoring in Japanese Studies/not having followed BA2 Focus Introduction to Japanese Linguistics or BA2 Focus Aspects of Japanese as a Second Language should contact the instructor first.