First Advisor

Suwako Watanabe

Term of Graduation

Summer 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures




Japanese American children -- Language, Heritage language speakers, Japanese language -- Study and teaching, Japanese language -- Spoken Japanese



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 103 pages)


This research examined what dominant speech style Japanese family members utilize by analyzing their conversations at home. In addition, the research conducted the Parent Interviews to find out what efforts the parents consistently make to develop and maintain their children's Japanese ability in terms of Japanese formal speech style.

The purpose of this research is twofold: (1) to examine the dominant speech style of Japanese during at-home conversations among Japanese family members and (2) to learn about the parents' effort to develop their children's Japanese ability. In order to conduct this research, two kinds of data were collected: Family Conversation Recordings and responses from Parent Interviews. The participants were four Japanese family members living in Oregon who (1) have at least one parent who is a native speaker of Japanese, (2) have at least one child who is old enough to attend 1st grade but has not graduated high school yet, (3) speak Japanese consistently and (4) hope their child will develop Japanese ability. They were asked to record their daily conversations three times via their own audio-device. In order to minimize unnatural conversation due to the recording device, only the third recordings were used as conversation data in this research. After completion of the recording submission, Parent Interviews were conducted to explore what they consistently do at home to foster their children's Japanese ability.

The conversation recordings were transcribed, and all Japanese predicates were counted and classified into distal or direct-style. The result indicated that direct-style was a dominant speech style in the conversations among the family members. The average of their direct-style use was overall 95% and distal-style was 5 %. Moreover, a qualitative analysis of the distal-style in family conversations found the following types of usage: (1) rehearsal phrase, (2) direct quotation, (3) interview role-play, (4) requesting with -te kudasai pattern, and (5) child's replies to their parents' request.

The results of the Parent Interviews concluded that none of the four participating families intentionally teach distal-style (desu masu cho) at home with any educational materials. The awareness levels of their distal-style differed from family to family. Additionally, the levels of expectation among the parents with regard to distal-style acquisition were also different from family to family. Although all of the parent participants expected their child to be able to handle the speech styles depending on the situations, none of them felt distal-style was the primary concern compared to other Japanese academic literacy skills.


© 2022 Yuya Sano

Persistent Identifier