Masculinity, race and national identity

representations of non-Japanese men’s speech in contemporary Japanese novels


  • Satoko Suzuki Macalester College



Language ideologies, Cultural nationalism, Masculinity, Race, Media representation


Language ideologies have been of central concern to the study of Japanese language, gender and society. Many scholars have researched ideologies surrounding representations of Japanese women’s speech; however, investigations of representations of men’s speech have been limited. This study contributes to filling this gap through the analysis of non-Japanese male characters found in contemporary Japanese novels. The article reveals that authors assign strongly masculine expressions to their East Asian characters much more frequently than to their white characters and argues that these differentiated representations of non-Japanese male characters’ speech reproduce and are influenced by ideologies concerning cultural nationalism, racial determinism, class and sexuality. Linguistic data are presented that both unsettle the constructed image of Asian males as asexual beings and question the historically assumed relationship between gendered language and authenticity.

Author Biography

Satoko Suzuki, Macalester College

Satoko Suzuki, PhD, is DeWitt Wallace Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures at Macalester College, USA. She recently guest-edited a special issue entitled Language, Nationalism, Love and Gender Roles in the Japanese Morning TV Drama Massan for the journal Japanese Studies.


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How to Cite

Suzuki, S. (2020). Masculinity, race and national identity: representations of non-Japanese men’s speech in contemporary Japanese novels. Gender and Language, 14(3), 226–243.