First Advisor

Suwako Watanabe

Term of Graduation

Fall 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures




Bilingualism -- Ontario -- Toronto, Japanese language -- Social aspects -- Ontario -- Toronto, Code switching (Linguistics), Comparative and general grammar, Language and culture



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 98 pages)


In her examination of Japanese-English bilingualism in Toronto, Nishimura (1995b) demonstrated that second-generation Japanese-Canadians varied their speech dependent on the audience they were addressing. According to her, the Japanese-Canadians spoke primarily in English to fellow second-generation speakers, while maintaining conversations in Japanese with those who had spent their formative years in Japan. However, when addressing audiences composed of both groups, they switched back and forth evenly between the two languages.

Following research done by Woolard (1989) on the effects of societal influences on language, the state of the Japanese-Canadians can be related to the breakup of the ethnic enclaves in which they had lived prior to the onset of World War II, also described by Nishimura (1995a). In contrast, this study examines the language used by more recently arrived Japanese-American speakers, whose families had not undergone the political instability of earlier generations. Three groups of these postwar Japanese-English speakers, each consisting of one native speaker and two Japanese-American heritage speakers, provided the data for the study via conversations that were recorded during an internet call. These speakers came from a variety of educational backgrounds, and often spent at least some time in both Japan and the U.S.

Following Myers-Scotton (1993), this study claims the diversity of parts of speech being used inside of one clause is a reliable metric that can be used in order to categorize a bilingual's speech. Using this method, the study finds that all of Nishimura's forms of bilingual speech are still being used among contemporary Japanese-Americans: a mostly Japanese version, a mostly English version, and a version in which the two languages are more evenly combined. The first two variants consist of the primary language with the occasional use of mostly single words from the other language, while the third contains a greater variety of grammatical items from both languages, and even grammatical overlaps that are not easily explainable in either language. Lastly, unlike the second-generation Japanese-Canadians from pre-war Japanese ethnic neighborhoods, who switched equally between Japanese and English when speaking to native speakers and fellow Japanese Canadians, the postwar second-generation Japanese-Americans in this study use primarily English in the same contexts. This occurs in spite of a consistently high opinion concerning the use of Japanese as held by the postwar speakers. Although the existence of the three variants of bilingual speech is confirmed among postwar Japanese-Americans, the choice of which variant to use is not dependent on the generation the speaker belongs to, but more concretely on the extent to which the speakers themselves were educated in Japan.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier