Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing

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177 Scopus citations


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 discursive 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Second Language Writing
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Electronic discourse
  • Identity
  • Linguistic individual
  • Voice
  • Web diary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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