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ASIAN 126: Language in Japanese Society

This course explores major aspects of language use that reflect Japanese culture and society. Issues covered include the characteristics of the Japanese language, loan words, regional differences, politeness, gender differences, and communication styles. The course is taught in a combination of lectures, class discussions, subtitled Japanese films, anime (Japanese animation), and student presentations. Knowledge of Japanese helpful but not necessary. Readings, lectures, and discussions are all in English. Offered alternate years. Counts toward Asian studies major and Japan studies and linguistic studies concentrations.


Learning Japanese introduces you to a dynamic nation of 120 million people at the hub of technological innovation, trade, and diplomatic relations in the world’s fastest-growing market: the Pacific Rim. It introduces you to a modern country that has maintained a distinct cultural identity; to a society that still emphasizes the individual’s responsibilities to family and group; and to an economy with distinctive solutions to problems of productivity, management, and motivation in the work place. It introduces you to the earliest non-Western nation to become a modern world power. St. Olaf teaches four full years of Japanese language and sends language students to three different campuses in Japan. The Japanese Major To fulfill a Japanese major, students will demonstrate both linguistic and cultural competence. For linguistic and language skills, Japanese majors will possess proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing at the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Intermediate-High level as well as metalinguistic and intercultural awareness of the use of Japanese language in different social milieus. Additionally, students will be able to analyze, interpret, and critique various discourses and cultural productions from and about Japan through their liberal arts studies, which may include literature, art, history, religion, philosophy, and/or politics. Special Programs Study programs in Japan are available at Waseda University in Tokyo through the ACM, Nagoya University in Nagoya, and Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo.

Linguistic Studies

...Course Other Approved Courses ASIAN 126 Language in Japanese Society ASIAN 240 Talking in Japan...