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Is it true that until recently women were expected to drop だ, ending a sentence with よ? For example:

今日、何曜日?

土曜日よ。

If it is true, was it thought to sound "gentler"? Why has this changed?

  • I searched around a bit to see if I could answer your question, but I don't think I could. There's multiple 終助詞 よ some of which are masculine, some of which are feminine, some of which are very polite; some are casual. So I couldn't get good information. – virmaior Jan 14 at 5:17
  • My impression as a non-native speaker is that the example you give isn't particular feminine vs. masculine but rather the "has the information and is informing" よ in non-polite speech. – virmaior Jan 14 at 5:17
  • @virmaior thank you very much for your comments. – Enguroo Jan 14 at 11:46
  • @virmaior 土曜日よ sounds clearly feminine (or オネエ-like)) to me... – naruto Jan 14 at 11:51
  • @virmaior In this context, either intonation between 土曜日よ{LHLH}? and 土曜 日よ{HL}↓ sounds feminine, as naruto says. However, the latter intonation pattern itself could be used for 役割語 for the delinquent or villains, and the former for チャラ男 (which may cause a bias for some dialects, though). – user4092 Jan 14 at 12:23
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See this question for the grammar and the difference between masculine-よ: how could a sentence end with (noun + "よ"?)

The feminine-よ is still very common in fiction including live-action dramas and stage plays, but it has long been rare in real-life conversations. I don't remember when it was common or expected in real life, but 女性語 on Japanese Wikipedia says the usage of feminine-よ was introduced in the Meiji era and declined before the 1980's. (The article says 1980年頃, but from what I remember, there were already almost no one who were actively using いやよ or 土曜日よ in speech in the 1980's... Maybe it was actually common around WWII.)

現代の日本で一般的に女性語として認識されている言葉の起源は、明治時代に有産階級の女学生の間で発生した「てよだわ言葉」である。「よくってよ」「いやだわ」などの言葉の流行は、尾崎紅葉によれば「旧幕の頃青山に住める御家人の(身分のいやしき)娘がつかひたる」とある通り、もとは山の手の下層階級の女性が使っていた言葉が女学生の間に伝播したもので、当時は「異様なる言葉づかひ」などと文化人の非難の的になったが、結果的には中流以上の女性層で定着し、規範的な女性語として扱われるようになった。

1980年代頃からは、男女ともに「だよ」「だね」「じゃん」といったユニセックスな言い回しが好まれるようになり、「てよだわ言葉」の流れをくむ女性語は中年以上の女性が用いるほかは、オネエ言葉に誇張された形で残っている。

  • There's a good book about this kind of language called ヴァーチャル日本語 役割語の謎. I think a lot of non-native speakers may get the wrong idea about how much feminine speech is used in real life (including me) because of how much it is used in drama. – rjh Jan 15 at 17:18

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