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Writing Gone Wild: Japanese Girls' Orthographic Rebellion

Laura Miller, Anthropology, Loyola University Chicago

Friday, May 12, 2006
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Bunche 10383
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This talk will introduce contemporary Japanese "Girl Characters" (gyaru moji), a writing practice that originated in cell phone text messaging and email, but is now found in other girls' media. Girl Characters are a straightforward syllabic graph substitution system combined with the use of deconstructed characters. Girls are awash in script overabundance, but rather than be overwhelmed by it, it is technological bounty they exploit and embrace. When girls play with their writing system in this way, they are doing three things. One, they are refusing to be the caretakers of beautiful calligraphy and are rejecting their role as custodians of  "correct" language. Two, their use of Girl Characters also extends the boundary of what is considered written Japanese, thereby challenging the notion of written language as a standardized and shared system. Last, by redefining the borders of linguistic possibility, girls are demonstrating resistance to the uniformity and predictability of  standardized writing and print media.

This talk is part of LA as offshore Japan: Transnational Networks and Cultural Entrepreneurship across the Pacific Rim -- A two-day event to launch the project Made In Translation: LA-Tokyo Mobility Networks and the Emergence of Offshore Japanese Cultural Industries in Art, Fashion and Food Funded by SSRC/Japan Foundation Abe Fellowship, UCLA Center for Japanese Studies, and International Institute

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA International Institute, SSRC/Japan Foundation Abe Fellowship

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