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Personal profile


My research looks at the sociolinguistic motivations behind styles of variation/play restricted to the written mode, with a particular focus on script use in Japanese. More broadly, I am curious about how different ways of reperesenting written language are involved within the creation of meaning (Silverstein's "total linguistic fact"), or grow into indexes of stance and/or identity. While generally sociolinguistics has focused on variation inherent to speech (e.g., accent), it is important to remember that some variation is also inherent to writing in ways that have no direct relation to differences that come from speech. For instance, while alternative spellings are often attempts at recreating accent or salient speech styles, font, script, CAPS, etc., are all restricted to writing, and their presence in a text is lost if the text is spoken allowed. By focusing on Japanese writing, where script variation is perhaps more commonplace than anywhere else, I hope to shed light on how differences between our written language practices also become salient social markers of stance and identity.

I am also intrigued by studies regarding any kind of written language play (again, especially when the play cannot be reproduced in speech), or the development and reform of writing systems, with a (non-exclusive) focus on Asian contexts.

Research interests

  • Japanese Sociolinguistics
  • Language Ideologies & Indexicality
  • Language Planning & Policy
  • Writing Systems Research
  • The History of Written Japanese
  • Language Play & Humor Translation
  • Nonstandard Language Use


JPS/JPNX 101 (Introductory Japanese 1)
JPS 102 (Introductory Japanese 2)
JPS 316 (Intercultural Perspectives in Japanese & English)

Education/Academic qualification

Applied Linguistics, PhD, Monash University

Jul 2013Jul 2016

Japanese & Creative Writing, Bachelors, Macalester College

Aug 2004May 2008

Applied Linguistics, Master's, Monash University

Feb 2012Jun 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Wes Robertson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

indexing Social Sciences
self-presentation Social Sciences
dialogue Social Sciences
orthography Social Sciences
language Social Sciences
humor Social Sciences
history of language Social Sciences
Ideologies Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Outputs 2015 2019

Scripted voices: script's role in creating Japanese manga dialogue

Robertson, W., 2019, In : Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. 10, 1, p. 87-105 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

speech act
Japanese Manga

Why can't I speak in kanji? Indexing social identities through marked script use in Japanese manga

Robertson, W. C., Aug 2019, In : Discourse, Context and Media. 30, p. 1-9 9 p., 100297.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Unspeakable puns: kanji-dependent wordplay as a localization strategy in Japanese

Robertson, W., 28 Nov 2018, In : Perspectives: Studies in Translatology. 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

history of language
macro level
micro level

He's more katakana than kanji: indexing identity and self-presentation through script selection in Japanese manga (comics)

Robertson, W. C., 11 Sep 2017, In : Journal of Sociolinguistics. 21, 4, p. 497–520 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Script choice and indexicality in Japanese manga

Robertson, W. C., 2016, (Unpublished) 266 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisResearch