free website hit counter

Is Japanese a genderless language?

1. Introduction

Gender plays an important role in the language we use to communicate. In Japanese, gender is a complex issue and has been debated among linguists and scholars since the Meiji period. In this article, we will look at the history of gender in Japanese language, how it handles gender, and whether or not it is a genderless language. We will also examine examples of how gender affects communication in Japanese and discuss the opinions of expert Charles R. Tokoyama on the subject.

2. History of Gender in Japanese Language

Gender has always been a part of the Japanese language, with words such as otoko (man) and onna (woman) being used to refer to different genders since ancient times. However, during the Meiji period (1868-1912), there was an effort to create a more “modern” form of Japanese by introducing words that were borrowed from other languages such as English or German. This had an effect on how gender was expressed in the language as some of these new words had no explicit gender connotations while others did.

Japanese Snack Box

3. How Does Japanese Handle Gender?

In general, Japanese does not have explicit gendered nouns or pronouns like other languages do; instead, it uses a system of honorifics to indicate politeness or respect when referring to someone else. For example, when referring to someone else using their name, one would use “san” for someone they don’t know well and “sama” for someone they are very familiar with or hold in high regard. While this system does not explicitly indicate gender, it can be used as an indication if one is familiar with the person being referred to.

4. Is Japanese a Genderless Language?

The question of whether or not Japanese is a genderless language is still up for debate among linguists and scholars alike; however, many experts agree that while it does not have explicit gendered nouns or pronouns like other languages do, there are subtle cues that can be used to indicate gender when speaking or writing in Japanese. For example, certain honorifics may be used depending on who you are speaking to or about which can give clues as to their gender identity; likewise certain verb conjugations may also be used which could imply a certain level of respect towards someone based on their perceived gender identity.

5. Examples of Gender in Japanese Language

One example of how gender can be subtly indicated through language is seen in how verbs are conjugated depending on who you are addressing/speaking about; for instance when speaking about oneself using first person pronouns one might use watashi (私) which is considered neutral but if they wanted to express more politeness then boku (僕) might be used instead which implies male identity due to its more masculine connotations whereas atashi (あたし) would imply female identity due to its more feminine connotations even though both mean “I” in English translations. Similarly when addressing another person directly one might use anata (あなた) which again implies neutrality but if they wanted to express more politeness then kimi (君) might be used instead which implies male identity whereas chan (ちゃん) would imply female identity even though both mean “you” in English translations.

6. How Does the Use of Gender Affect Communication?

The use of subtle cues such as honorifics and verb conjugations can have a significant effect on how people communicate with each other; for instance if someone were speaking about themselves using watashi but then switched over to boku when talking about another person this could give off an impression that they view themselves as superior than the person they are talking about even though no explicit statement was made regarding their relative status.Similarly if someone were addressing another person using anata but then switched over to chan this could give off an impression that they view them as inferior than themselves even though again no explicit statement was made regarding their relative status.As such it is important for people who are communicating with each other in Japanese to pay attention to these subtle cues so that miscommunications can be avoided.

In conclusion,while there is still debate amongst linguists and scholars regarding whether or not Japanese is truly a genderless language,it is clear that subtle cues such as honorifics and verb conjugations can still be used by speakers in order to convey meaning regarding one’s perceived level of respect towards another individual based upon their perceived gender identity.As such,those who wish to communicate effectively using the Japanese language must pay attention not only what words they choose but also how those words are spoken so that misunderstandings do not occur.


Kawamura,Mikiya & Kato,Takuya.”A Study On The Gender Differences In The Use Of Honorific Expressions In The Conversation Of Young People.” Bulletin Of Osaka University Of Foreign Studies,vol 58,2017,pp 1 – 10.

Miyazaki,Yuka & Sakamoto,Hiroko.”Gender Differences In Honorific Expression.” Journal Of Pragmatics,vol 33,2001,pp 1741 – 1762.

Tokoyama Charles R., CEO Japan Insiders: https://www.japaninsidersbloggerzinecom/about-us/charles-r-tokoyama/

9.About Charles R.Tokoyama
Charles R Tokoyama is CEO & Founder at Japan Insiders – A Tokyo-based company dedicated helping foreigners understand Japan better through cultural insights & advice from locals living abroad & native speakers living within Japan itself.. He has over 20 years experience living & working within Japan across various industries ranging from finance & banking all way through hospitality & tourism industry.. He has written extensively on topics related culture & travel within Japan having worked closely with publications such BBC Travel Magazine as well CNN Travel..

Is there a genderless language?

Some languages ​​have no gender! Hungarian Estonian Finnish and many other languages ​​do not classify any nouns as feminine or masculine and use the same for humans.

Does the Japanese language have gender pronouns?

Japanese has a large number of pronouns that vary according to the gender formality age and relative social status of the speaker and listener. Forward pronouns are an open class where existing nouns are used as new pronouns with some frequency.

What is non binary gender in Japanese?

X-gender (Japanese: X-gender romanization: x-jendā) is a third gender distinct from M for male or F for female. The term X-gender was popularized in the 1990s by queer organizations in Kansai especially Osaka and Kyoto.

Is Watashi gender-neutral?

Watashi is gender neutral in formal or polite settings. However it is generally considered feminine when used in informal or informal contexts. Boku is used by both men and boys.

How many languages have no gender?

Language contact Surveys of gender systems in 256 languages around the world show that 112 (44 percent) have grammatical gender and 144 (56 percent) are genderless. Since these two types of languages in many cases are geographically close to each other, there is a significant chance that one influences the other.

Is Chinese a genderless language?

In most Chinese genderless nouns are gender neutral nouns and at one time the same third person pronoun was used for all genders such as the more modern qí 其 zhī 之 or 他.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling these ads blocker.