Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Communication Studies


Communication and the arts; Japanese language, English language, American speech patterns


Christopher King




The purpose of this thesis is to analyze comparative data from novels in both Japanese and English to demonstrate the obstacles to accurate translation of personal pronouns.

The differences in language structure which create difficulties in translation are due to cultural differences. The effects of background culture on the pronoun systems are considered at length in this study. There are many varieties of forms of first and second person pronouns in the Japanese language, which imply various relationships between the speaker and the addressee, whereas in English, there is only one form of first and second pronouns.

As a result of the textual analysis, it can be said that translating Japanese into English distorts characteristics of Japanese interpersonal communication by collapsing them into a one-dimensional pronoun framework. Conversely, translating English into Japanese distorts American interpersonal communication patterns by expanding them into a multi-dimensional pronoun framework which reflects characteristics of Japanese society.

Pronouns are obstacles to translation. Translators are forced to eliminate distinctions (Japanese to English) or to create them (English to Japanese). All they can do is to minimize these problems as much as possible by taking the cultural context into account.

Finally, an effort is made to stress the importance of the role of translation in enhancing intercultural communication.