First Advisor

Susan B. Poulsen

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication


Code switching (Linguistics) -- Japan -- Okinawa Island, Sociolinguistics -- Japan -- Okinawa Island, Okinawa Island (Japan) -- Languages



Physical Description

1 online resource ( 3, vi, 148 pages)


The ethnography of communication is a mode of inquiry which investigates relationships between language and culture in a particular speech community. Based on the ethnographic perspective, this study examines a certain way of speaking at a specific historical moment in a specific community. The major focus is two disc jockeys who are characterized as "trilingual" speakers (Japanese-English-Okinawa dialect) and their code switching activities in an Okinawan local radio program.

The three-month field study took place on the island of Okinawa. Data were collected from observations at the two radio stations, transcriptions of the program, and interviews with the DJs, the program director, program listeners, and older Okinawan residents.

The situational and metaphorical code switching patterns found in the DJs' verbal interactions include: obligational code choice, topic related code choice, interjections, quotations, translations, a lack of language proficiency, reiterations, and addressee specification. Using language which reflects "we" versus "they" orientation was a major determinant of the DJs' code choices. While the DJs use dialect to maintain Okinawan group identification, the use of English appeared directed toward loosening the social separation between Okinawans and Americans who belong to mutually exclusive speech communities.

In addition to these functions of code switching related to the general social context in Okinawa, the study finds that the DJs and program listeners share the particular sociolinguistic values and therefore create a specific speech community. The DJs' use of three codes discloses two cultural phenomena in this young Okinawan speech community. One is the enhancement of Okinawan identity as a resistance to Japanization and the other is the acceptance of the American influence as part of local culture.

Although the DJs are known to be "trilingual" among the younger people, the older generation defines the DJs' dialect as Okinawan-Japanese, which is a Creole produced language contact between the Okinawa dialect and Japanese. In a strict grammatical analysis, most of the DJs' dialect is not spoken in pure form of the Okinawa dialect. However, using dialect in a certain way, the DJs maintain and share Okinawan group identity with the young program fans. Simultaneously, the mixed-background English speaking radio hosts are also accepted by listeners as a symbol of new Okinawa where the American influence has become an indispensable factor in creating its unique characteristics. The success of the "trilingual" entertainers reveals the current situation in the young Okinawan speech community where a cultural interrelation between mainland Japan, America, and Okinawa can be discovered.


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