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Womansword: What Japanese Words Say about Women
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Womansword: What Japanese Words Say about Women

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  67 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Womansword is an insightful look at Japanese words concerning women and what they reveal about the status of women in modern Japan. In a collection of short, lively essays, author Kittredge Cherry considers the connotations, usage, and context of several hundred common words and phrases related to female identity, girlhood, marriage, mothering, working, sex, and aging. The ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 9th 2002 by Kodansha
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Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students of Japanese and people who like language
This was pretty cool. I read this in college. The book dissects the way Japanese words are written and gives you a short essay on each one. One of the more obvious examples is the Japanese word for "gossip" is the character for "woman" repeated three times. Get three chicks together and you know what's going to happen. Or, you might refer to your mother as "Honorable Bag."

Good stuff.
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
If there is one thing that can be derived from this book, it is that Japanese is highly "interpretable" and therefore, at the mercy of linguists.

This is definitely one of those books that shouldn't have been re-printed without some sort of caveat: "This book was first printed 15 (now 20) years ago. As you might imagine, things have changed a bit."

The "packaging" of the book (colorful cover, small format, easy to read layout, modern look) is a bit of a deception. This is a book meant to be read f
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Although it is quite dated, this book is still a really intriguing look at Japanese words and culture that revolves solely around women and their lives. I quite enjoyed it.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be interesting in part because I spent three years in Japan while serving in the US Air Force, studied Japanese language, met and married a Japanese woman. From that background, I was already aware that Japanese language has many different words for men and women to use that generally put the female in a lower position. This author provides a lot of these words including historical context that gives perspective of how words can culturally establish and reinforce class and s ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No muchas novedades

Aunque se anuncia como nueva edición, las novedades son pocas y no se han actualizado los datos: las encuestas referidas a. Ada pasó son de los años 80. Lástima, porque el libro sigue siendo muy bueno.
Laura Schwartz
Exploring a specific facet of society by exploring the language surrounding it is a fascinating approach, but like other anthropological research, it also has its drawbacks. One quibble I have is that the majority of the author's sources are 20-30 years old and although these remain valuable resources, and although in the updated introduction the author claims to not have found many recent valid sources, I find that somewhat hard to believe. This is the era of the internet where new terms are co ...more
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
A decent look at linguistic, cultural and traditional ties in words used to describe women and their lives. Unfortunately, much of it is outdated now, but for someone looking for insight into the modern evolution of female language in Japan it does its job.
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting! Perhaps a bit dated. However, it makes you question the use of your own written and spoken language, and what it might say about gender equality in your nation.
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Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely interesting look at culturally-ingrained attitudes towards women through the lens of Japanese linguistics. It's essentially a time capsule of language with a brief "update" introduction. I was a little disappointed in the lack of rigor in the editing process though; I ran into numerous grammatical errors and missing or incorrect punctuation. It was so extensive that for me, it detracted from the actual content of the book. I would still recommend it as a fascinating, unique, and in- ...more
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Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian Christian author, minister and art historian. She founded Jesus in Love, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. Cherry was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its National Ecumenical Officer, advocating for LGBT rights at the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. She holds degrees in journalism and art histor ...more

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“Psychologically, Japanese women depend largely on each other. In their sex-segregated society, they could be criticized for living in a female ghetto, and yet they have what some American feminists are trying to build, a ”women’s culture” with its own customs, values and even language.” 0 likes
“When [Japanese] women encouraged men to bask in public glory, it reminded me of the way you would indulge a child with a sweet-bean treat.” 0 likes
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