Urban princesses: Performance and "Women's Language" in Japan's Gothic/Lolita subculture

Isaac Gagné*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the linguistic strategies used in the counterpublic discourse of Gothic/Lolita, a young Japanese women's subculture of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and explores how the subculture and its practices are characterized by the Japanese media. Particular attention is paid to how subcultural magazines, websites, and Gothic/Lolitas themselves create and sustain a "virtual linguistic community" through a specialized lexicon of neologisms and re-appropriated "women's language," as well as negative identity practices that seek to define Gothic/Lolita against other subcultures and fashions such as kosupure ["Cosplay" i.e., Costume Play]. Additionally, an analysis of representations of Gothic/ Lolita speech in two television programs reveals how the media constructs ambivalent images via iconization and erasure through narration and editing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-150
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


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