Many people say that gendered language is especially important in Japanese. To a point, I can understand this, but only to a certain distance. For example, if I (Fe/male) were to say 'Wow, that show was impressive!', in a neutral pitch, it wouldn't sound queer if I were male of female. However, if I were to say 'Ooh, that show was fantastic!' (generally female sounding), or 'Damn, that show was fucking awesome, man.' (generally male sounding), it wouldn't be wrong, but to some it would sound quite strange.

I can understand this in Japanese too, but some stress it to a point I can't believe. For instance, for the most part, things in Japanese seen as 'masculine' (most common examples I've heard), are: 僕、俺、だ(copula)、か(interrogative); and ones seen as 'feminine' are: 私、あたし、です、〜ます、の (interrogative)、わ. Now, keep in mind, 私、です、〜ます、only apply in casual conversations and situations, and in polite ones, it is 'correct', and wouldn't be 'feminine'. Similarly, の as an interrogative, I hear isn't feminine in some situations as well, and わ is sometimes used by males, and in some dialects, it's not feminine at all. (correct me if I'm wrong).

Also, things seen as masculine, I hear females saying all the time, and at no sacrifice to their femininity. Although I have yet to hear a woman say 俺, there has been no shortage to the amount of women saying 僕、だ、か. Although more women are using 'masculine' language than men using 'feminine' language, it is still there.

I have heard that if you don't use the appropriate set, people will be confused, maybe upset. If you mix them, you may be seen as gender non-conforming. Is this really true? Just how important is gendered language in Japanese?

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    This 'question' meanders through several opinions, conjectures and sub-questions before eventually asking a subjective question. Some subjects here, if reformulated into a more concise format, would certainly be welcome as separate questions. Many of the more specific questions actually have been answered in other questions such as this question and its various duplicates, the feminine-speech and gender tags. – jkerian May 16 '13 at 2:56
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    "Just how important is gendered language in Japanese?" -Very. – yadokari May 16 '13 at 4:04
  • I'm afraid your examples are biased. Personally I never heard (in textbooks) that だ, か are masculine and です, ~ます are feminine. This, and the overall tone of your post, is more like flame-inviting than truth-seeking, to my eye. – firtree May 16 '13 at 7:39
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    It is strange, but not rude or offensive (unless the speech is also rude or offensive). And even the degree of strangeness depends on context. Imagine a girl wearing jeans. It is totally okay in some situations but questionable in others. Just the same, saying 僕 is okay for a teenager girl playing fighting games in a game center, but looks strange for a housewife shopping for groceries. Though no one would be offended. (俺 is not only masculine, but also somewhat rude or arrogant.) Generally, it just adds a certain extra sense to speech, and it's up to you to decide if it is appropriate or not. – firtree May 19 '13 at 9:03
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    I think the idea of masculine/feminine words described in the question is too simplified. I know a woman in 20s using 俺. / At least, we do not care about non-natives' accents much. Yet, we can guess who have taught Japanese to them. If you met a Japanese speaking grammatically broken English in a perfect southern accent, probably you will be interested, but I think that should be all. / Also, rude words are sometimes offensive but it is because they are used intentionally. So, to be offensive, you need to speak fluently and make others sure that you are using rude words intentionally. – Keita ODA Oct 19 '15 at 14:34