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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
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You’ve got sp@m: A corpus-linguistic analysis of Japanese dating invitation mails

May 18 - December 10, 2018 / 6.30 P.M.

Peter Backhaus, Waseda University

This paper examines one very common type of Japanese spam: mails that take the shape of dating invitations. The ultimate goal of these mails is to make (heterosexual, male) readers give away personal information such as their address and credit card details. In order to do so, the mails pretend to be written by female senders looking for a sexual relationship with the receiver. Since in many cases the receivers are offered larger sums of money for the desired transactions, these messages in recent years have come to be referred to as “reverse compensated dating” (gyaku enjo koosai) mails.

Working with a sample of 434 such mails collected between 2009 and 2012, I analyse the genre-specific characteristics of this very special type of communication. Special focus is on three questions: (1) How are sexual taboos communicated in the text? (2) What linguistic strategies are used to fake female authorship? (3) What teasing strategies are at work to make people (other than spam mail researchers) open and read these messages?

Peter Backhaus is Associate Professor at Waseda University, School of Education. He has a broad interest in Japanese language and society. Major publications include Linguistic Landscapes: A Comparative Study of Urban Multilingualism in Tokyo (Multilingual Matters, 2007) and Communication in Elderly Care (ed., Continuum, 2011).