Queer Japanese pp 135-151 | Cite as

Queen’s Speech as a Private Matter



In the previous chapter I examined five claims about o-ne-kotoba, arguing that a given speaker may use or borrow linguistic resources generally reserved for women and manipulate them to their advantage. For instance, some use hyper-polite speech that people associate with stereotypical women’s language, transforming it into something entirely different through criticism or parody. Other speakers combine the polite speech with contrasting, culturally opposing resources, as in the combination of honorifics with vulgar terms that index gender boundaries, the juxtaposition of feminine (polite and gentle) and masculine (harsh and vulgar) forms, and the fusion of binary pairs where one side has a higher cultural value. By combining two presumably opposite cultural values, o-ne-kotoba speakers challenge any assumption that one is more powerful or prestigious or serious than the other. Both types are recognized as equal for o-ne-kotoba speakers. At the same time, they deride stereotyped women’s speech and its ideological baggage—a stereotype that leads to claims that women should speak that way and men should not. In the same manner, it challenges assumptions that men’s speech is more powerful than women’s. Fluidly accessing two separate linguistic categories, o-nekotoba speakers blur all these lines, transgressing all distinctions.


Gender Identity Sexual Minority Sexual Identity Person Pronoun Linguistic Resource 
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© Hideko Abe 2010

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