"Characters" in Japanese Communication and Language: An Overview
Keywords:character, style, personality, identity, Japanese
There are various ideas related to characters in modern Japan (dramatis personae, Ito's (2005) Kyara and its self-professed successors' ideas, and situation-based self). This paper will introduce these ideas, address my definition of character (situation-based self) in detail, and discuss its significance for communication and linguistic research.
The major characteristics of this definition are: (i) it is based on the traditionally taboo idea that "humans can change in response to the situation," and (ii) it is not something created by a researcher (the author), but was rather formed by speakers of Japanese in the course of daily life. I merely employed this word as it is, as a technical term.
Japanese speakers are keenly conscious of the self’s situation-sensitiveness, but there is no need to think of Japanese society as unique just because it was the first to come out about this fact to the world. This characteristic of Japanese society can be understood as a difference of degree; that is, there is "a low degree of freedom in style, and a correspondingly large degree of freedom in character."
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