Language Gender Differences in Spoken Japanese

By JREF · Mar 21, 2012 · ·
  1. JREF
    What we present here is a short overview of gendered language in colloquial Japanese. In spoken Japanese, a distinction is made between male and female language. Most of these differences pertain to the use of certain words, though primarily the informal speech has a slightly different grammar for women and men.

    Gender Differences

    Women can often leave out the (da) at the end of sentences, while men should never do so. Women may also use the emphatic particle (wa) at the end of sentences. Men may do this on occasion, depending on the area of Japan you are in, but as a general rule, it is recommended for men not to use it, as it sounds slightly effeminate.

    The use of the question particle (ka) in informal speech can as a rule only be used by men since it sounds harsh.

    In general, tough-sounding words and phrases are only used by male interlocutors. However, especially in metropolitan areas like Tokyo and Osaka, you will hear more and more young women using those words and phrases as well.

    Feminine expressionsMasculine expressions
    きれいね。 Kirei ne. It's pretty, isn't it?きれいだね。 Kirei da ne. It's pretty, isn't it?*
    行くわ。 ku wa. I'm leaving.行く。 Iku. I'm leaving.*
    行きますわ。 Ikimasu wa. I'm leaving.行きます。 Ikimasu. I'm leaving.*
    行く? (Iku?) Are you leaving?*行くか。 Iku ka. Are you leaving?
    行くかしら。 Iku ka shira. I may be leaving.行くかもしれない。 Iku ka mo shirenai.
    I may be leaving.*

    Feminine pronounsMasculine pronouns
    あたし atashi I, meboku I, me
    watashi I, me*ore I, me (street slang)
    kimi you (singular)*お前 o-mae you (singular) (street slang)
    -こいつ koitsu you (directive pronoun, as in "this guy"; rather hostile)
    -手前 temae you (archaic, extremely hostile in its corrupted form temee てめえ)
    Words used for feminine objects, women, and small childrenWords used for masculine objects, and men
    可愛い kawaii to be cuteかっこいい kakkoii to be cool
    ちゃん chan endearing suffixkun endearing suffix
    Feminine wordsMasculine words
    wa: gives a distinctly soft effect; not to be confused with wa in the Kansai dialectかい kai: masculine form of the question marker ka
    わよ wa yo: informativezo: emphatic/informative; more positive than ze
    ]わね wa ne: ne is a tag question roughly meaning "don't you agree?"

    It is sometimes placed at the beginning, rather than the end of sentences and functions to soften

    ze : emphatic/informative
    no: gives a distinctly soft effectyo : emphatic/informative; also used by women, but women often soften by adding wa
    のよ no yo: informative/assertiveかなぁ kanaa*: I wonder
    のね no ne: explanatory/tag question-
    かしら kashira: I wonder-
    * marks forms used by both women and men


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  1. Guest
    I disagree with the form of “you”. From what I’ve learned of 4 years of HS Japanese “kimi” is used by men and “anata” by women. I had a female Japanese native-speaker as the teacher. I think the Random-House English-Japanese dictionary also makes this distinction.

  2. Guest

  3. Guest
    arigato.. wakarimashita..

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