Paul Kei Matsuda
Voice in Japanese Written Discourse: Implications for Second Language Writing

Journal of Second Language Writing10.1-2 (2001)

While the study of written discourse that informs the field of L2 writing has generated many insights into its generalizable features, individual variations have largely been neglected. This article explores the possibilities for the study of divergent aspects of discursive practices by focusing on the notion of voice and considers the implications for L2 writing research and instruction. I begin by examining recent critiques of the notion of voice that emphasize its strong association with the ideology of individualism and argue that the notion of voice is not exclusively tied to individualism. To demonstrate that the practice of constructing voice is not entirely foreign to so-called "collectivist cultures," I present evidence of voice in Japanese electronic discourse, focusing on how voice is constructed through the use of language-specific features. Based on this analysis, I argue that the difficulties that Japanese students face in constructing voice in English written discourse are due not to its incompatibility with their cultural orientation but to the different ways in which voice is constructed in Japanese and English as well as the lack of familiarity with the strategies available in English.

Matsuda, P. K. (2001). Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1-2), 35-53. doi:10.1016/S1060-3743(00)00036-9 

Updated on April 28, 2013