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Dr Emi Otsuji


Emi Otsuji teaches and coordinates the Japanese Language and Culture program. She completed a Masters in Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney and obtained a Ph.D from University of Technology, Sydney. Her Ph.D thesis received the 2009 Michael Clyne prize for the best postgraduate research on ‘Immigrant bilingualism and language contact’ from the Australian Linguistics Society (ALS) and Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA).

Emi Otsuji is the co-author (with Prof. Alastair Pennycook) of the book, Metrolingualism: Language in the City, (2015), Routledge, and is the co-editor (with Dr. Ikuko Nakane and Dr. William Armour) of Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan: From Internationalization to Globalization (2015), Routledge. She is the Japanese editor of Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism (JJMM) and has published a number of book chapters and articles in various journals including Applied Linguistics, Journal of Sociolinguistics, International Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, International Journal of Bilingual Education, and Linguistic Landscape. 

Emi Otsuji is currently working on a Multilingual University repertoire project, which examines the ways by which people use multiple languages in and around university contexts. Her specific interest in this project is understanding how students draw on multilingual resources as part of the ways they study. She is also involved in a 'Language citizenship' book project with Prof. Hosokawa (Waseda University) and Dr. Marcellar Marriotti (from Ca' Foscari University of Venice). 


Emi Otsuji is the representative delegate  (Daigiin) of Asian and Oceania block for International Association of Japanese Language Education (Nihongo kyoiku gakkai) . 

Japanese Editor for Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism

Editorial board member: SLCE: Studies of Language and Cultural Education (Gengobunka Kyouiku  Kenkyu)

Image of Emi Otsuji
Senior Lecturer, International Studies Program
BA (TWCU), MA (Macquarie), PhD
+61 2 9514 7683

Research Interests

Her research interests include:

1 language and globalization (metrolingualism and multilingualism);

2. performativity theory of language and identities;

3 critical pedagogy and language ideologies; and,

4 transcultural communication and linguistic citizenship in language teaching.

Emi Otsuji work (together with Prof. Alastair Pennycook) is well known for introducing the concept of metrolingualism or the phenomena which assumes the use of mixed language to be the norm, and links language practices more intimately to the urban areas.  

Emi Otsuji teaches transcultural communication in Japanese, language and identities in Japanese, and Japanese language and culture subjects. 


Pennycook, A. & Otsuji, E. 2015, Metrolingualism Language in the City, Routledge.
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This book is about language and the city. Pennycook and Otsuji introduce the notion of 'metrolingualism', showing how language and the city are deeply involved in a perpetual exchange between people, history, migration, architecture, urban landscapes and linguistic resources. Cities and languages are in constant change, as new speakers with new repertoires come into contact as a result of globalization and the increased mobility of people and languages. Metrolingualism sheds light on the ordinariness of linguistic diversity as people go about their daily lives, getting things done, eating and drinking, buying and selling, talking and joking, drawing on whatever linguistic resources are available. Engaging with current debates about multilingualism, and developing a new way of thinking about language, the authors explore language within a number of contemporary urban situations, including cafés, restaurants, shops, streets, construction sites and other places of work, in two diverse cities, Sydney and Tokyo. This is an invaluable look at how people of different backgrounds get by linguistically. Metrolingualism: Language in the city will be of special interest to advanced undergraduate/postgraduate students and researchers of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics.
Nakane, I., Otsuji, E. & Armour, W.S. 2015, Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan From Internationalization to Globalization, Routledge.
From Internationalization to Globalization Ikuko Nakane, Emi Otsuji, William S. Armour ... of looking at language and identity issues in a transitional Japan by linking both the local and global as well as the grassroots and policy level.


otsuji & Pennycook, A.D. 2017, 'Cities, conviviality and double-edged language play' in Bell, N. (ed), Multiple perspectives on language play, De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin, pp. 199-218.
Otsuji, E. 2015, 'Metrolingual Tokyo: "C'est un Peu Difficile, mais it's very Fan desu yo"' in Nakane, I., Otsuji, E. & Armour, W. (eds), Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan: From Internationalization to Globalization, pp. 101-120.
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Nakane, I., Otsuji, E. & Armour, W.S. 2015, 'Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan' in Nakane, I., Otsuji, E. & Armour, W.S. (eds), Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan: From Internationalization to Globalization, Routledge, pp. 1-14.
Nakane, I., Otsuji, E. & Armour, W.S. 2015, 'Japan-in-Transition: Reflections and Futures' in Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan: From Internationalization to Globalization, Routledge, New York, pp. 191-194.
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Otsuji, E. & Pennycook, A.D. 2014, 'Unremarkable Hybridities and Metrolingual Practices' in Rubdy, R. & Alsagoff, L. (eds), The Global_Local Interface and Hybridity, Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp. 83-99.
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Otsuji, E. 2010, ''Where Am I From': Performative and 'Metro' Perspectives of Origin' in Nunan, D. & Choi, J. (eds), Language and Culture, Routledge, New York, pp. 186-193.
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I am sitting at a desk in 'my' room in Tokyo. It is the desk which was passed on to me from my father. Next to the desk, a doll that was bought on one of the family trips to Italy when I was a primary school student is sitting on top of an old upright piano. I open the lid of the piano and I touch the scratches on the space beside the piano keys. I can hear my piano teacher's voice: 'Play ten times for each piece every day.' The scratches must have been from ten yen coins when r transferred them from one side of the piano to the other each time I practiced a piece. An old fashioned bookshelf is half opened and First Love by Ivan Turgenev, The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald, and Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima are peeking out. As I further open the bookshelf, the smell of old papers tingles my nose. On the wall, there is my oil painting of Queens Park in Edinburgh, the view from my window when I was living there at the age of twelve, with five sheep of identical size between the top and the bottom of the hill; I also see the picture ofShwedagon Pagoda that was given to me when I was backpacking in Burma at the age of twenty. This is the room where I stayed up all night st ruggling to write an essay on Martin Heidegger's Being and Time regretting that I started at the last minute. I used to belong to and played a big role in constructing this culturally 'schizophrenic' space twenty years ago when I was a university student. Now this room is used as a guest room and I also have been an occasional sojourner for almost twenty years. Theoretically, I do not 'own' this room anymore, but whenever I find any traces from my past, I feel as if r have found a precious shiny marble in the bottom of my drawer. 1 write in this room in 2008 back from Sydney visiting my mother to spend Christmas and New Year.
Lee, A. & Otsuji, E. 2009, 'Critical Discourse Analysis and the Problem of Methodology' in Le, T., La, Q. & Short, M. (eds), Critical discourse analysis : an interdisciplinary perspective, Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp. 65-78.
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Otsuji, E. 2000, 'The application of critical discourse analysis to intercultural interaction' in Mackie, V., Skoutarides, A. & Tokita, A. (eds), Japanese studies: communities, cultures, critiques, vol 4: New directions in Japanese linguistics, Monash Asia Institute, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 93-104.

Journal articles

Pennycook, A.D. & Otsuji, E. 2017, 'Fish, phone cards and semiotic assemblages in two Bangladeshi shops in Sydney and Tokyo', Social Semiotics, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 434-450.
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Pennycook, A.D. & Otsuji, E. 2016, 'Lingoing, language labels and metrolingual practices', Applied Linguistics Review, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 259-277.
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There is a potential tension between the descriptions of language use by contemporary sociolinguistic researchers keen to focus on metro- poly- or translanguaging – with a focus on repertoires of semiotic resources – and the terms used by language users themselves – which may accord much more with traditional linguistic labels. While we tried to account for this disparity in previous discussions by focusing on the push and pull between fluid and fixed language use and descriptions, we focus in this paper on the negotiations around the labels used by the participants themselves. While it is certainly the case that the tools for discussing language use and affiliation in everyday discourse are themselves linguistically constrained (using commonly accepted language labels) the terms people use to talk about their multilingual environments are not necessarily as normative as they first appear. Such apparently stable referents are themselves part of a more complex set of identity repertoires that are always being reworked. What is at stake, therefore, is not so much a polarisation between fluid language use and fixed language ascriptions as a constant reconfiguration of language meanings.
Pennycook, A.D. & Otsuji, E. 2015, 'Making scents of the landscape', Linguistic Landscape, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 191-212.
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Moving away from logocentric studies of the linguistic landscape, this paper explores the relations between linguascapes and smellscapes. Often regarded as the least important of our senses, smell is an important means by which we relate to place. Based on an olfactory ethnography of a multicultural suburb in Sydney, we show how the intersection of people, objects, activities and senses make up the spatial repertoire of a place. We thus take a broad view of the semiotic landscape, including more than the visual and the intentional, and suggest that we are interpellated by smells as part of a broader relation to space and place. Understanding the semiotics of the urban smellscape in associational terms, we therefore argue not merely that smell has generally been overlooked in semiotic landscapes, nor that this can be rectified by an expanded inventory of sensory signs, but rather that the interpellative and associational roles of smells invite us towards an alternative semiotics of time and place.
Pennycook, A.D. & Otsuji, E. 2014, 'Metrolingual multitasking and spatial repertoires: 'Pizza mo two minutes coming'', Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 161-184.
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Drawing on data from two restaurants in Sydney and Tokyo, this paper describes the ways in which linguistic resources, everyday tasks and social space are intertwined in terms of metrolingual multitasking. Rather than the demolinguistic enumeration of mappable multilingualism or the language-to-language or language-to-person focus of translingualism, metrolingualism focuses on everyday language practices and their relations to urban space. In order to capture the dynamism of the urban linguistic landscape, this paper explores this relationship between metrolingual multitasking the ways in which linguistic resources, activities and urban space are bound together and spatial repertoires the linguistic resources available in a particular place arguing that a focus on resources, repertoires, space, place and activity helps us understand how multilingualism from below operates in complex urban places.
Pennycook, A. & Otsuji, E. 2014, 'Market Lingos and Metrolingua Francas', International Multilingual Research Journal, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 255-270.
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© , Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Drawing on data recorded in two city markets, this article analyzes the language practices of workers and customers as they go about their daily business, with a particular focus on the ways in which linguistic resources, everyday tasks, and social spaces are intertwined in producing metrolingua francas. The aim of the article is to come to a better understanding of the relationships among the use of diverse linguistic resources (drawn from different languages, varieties, and registers), the repertoires of the workers, the activities in which they are engaged, and the larger space in which this occurs. Developing the idea of spatial repertoires as the linguistic resources available in particular places, we explore the ways in which metrolingua francas (metrolingual multilingua francas) emerge from the spatial resources of such markets.
Harissi, M., Otsuji, E. & Pennycook, A.D. 2012, 'The Performative Fixing and Unfixing of Subjectivities', Applied Linguistics, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 524-543.
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Looking at two sets of conversations, among Greek adolescents, and between Japanese and Australian workers, this article shows how a poststructuralist understanding of the ways in which participants use and mix elements of their language repertoires implies a view of language as performative. Although the poststructuralist element of our approach on the one hand foregrounds a questioning of stable categories of language, identity, and assumed modes of mixing, our development of an understanding of performativity allows us to consider seriously the processes by which language and identity are constantly being remade. For the participants themselves, this is not simply a question of fluid language practices, but rather the interplay of fixed and unfixed language elements, cultural identifications, and social relationships. Reinvigorating Butlers account of performativity, our analysis and comparison of these two sets of data shows how a poststructuralist consideration of performativity sheds light on the relationship between the ongoing production of subjectivity and the deployment of fixed, stable, or stereotypical categories of identity.
Otsuji, E. & Pennycook, A.D. 2011, 'Social inclusion and metrolingual practices', International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 413-426.
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In this paper, we explore the implications of metrolingual language practices for how we understand social inclusion. A vision of social inclusion that includes bi- and multilingual capacities may comprise an appreciation of a diversity of languages other than English, and the skills and capabilities of multilingual language users, yet it is all too often premised on an understanding of language use that cannot escape its origins in statist understandings of language ideologieswhere a particular language is associated with a particular cultural, ethnic or geographical configuration.
Otsuji, E. 2011, 'Metrolingualism and Japanese language education: Linguistic competence across borders', Literacies, vol. 9, pp. 21-30.
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This paper critically examines what constitutes language competency and language education within the globalised society by elucidating ways in which language, culture, ethnicities and identities are constructed in and through conversations between` Japanese and` Australians. While Japanese language education is still primarily premised on the monolingual mindset failing to situate Japanese language within multilingual environments, the paper proposes that language education should take into account the newly defined notion of metrolingualism. Metrolingualism is a productive linguistic space which emerges through the interaction between normative and fixed understandings of language and fluid (hybrid) and dynamic understandings. It is suggested that metrolingualism will allow students to develop their capacity to construct their own linguistic environment by manipulating and managing their own diverse linguistic resources and proposes the need to incorporate metrolingual perspectives in understanding linguistic competency and language education theory within globalisation
Otsuji, E. & Pennycook, A.D. 2010, 'Metrolingualism: fixity, fluidity and language in flux', International Journal of Multilingualism, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 240-254.
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By extending the notion of metroethnicity, this paper proposes the notion of metrolingualism, creative linguistic practices across borders of culture, history and politics. Metrolingualism gives us a way to move beyond current terms such as 'multilingualism' and 'multiculturalism'. It is a product of modern and often urban interaction, describing the ways in which people of different and mixed backgrounds use, play with and negotiate identities through language. The focus is not so much on language systems as on languages as emergent from contexts of interaction. Looking at data from workplaces where metrolingual language use is common, we show how the use of both fixed and fluid linguistic and cultural identities is part of the process of language use. The notion of metrolingualism gives us ways of moving beyond common frameworks of language, providing insights into contemporary, urban language practices, and accommodating both fixity and fluidity in its approach to language use.
Otsuji, E. & Kinoshita Thomson, C. 2009, 'Promoting 'Third Space' Identities: A Case Study of the Teaching of Business Japanese', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 1-21.
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This paper argues that the teaching and learning of a foreign language involves students in the construction of their own identities between cultural and linguistic practices. The study looks at the interconnected practices of the content of the textbook, the classroom teaching and teachers ideological stance in relation to students gender identity construction. It examines how all the practices jointly contribute to a foreign language learning experience. In particular, the construction of (gender) identities of the learners explicated through a case study of a Japanese business classroom practice.
Kinoshita Thomson, C. & Otsuji, E. 2009, 'Multidimensional examination of gender in a business Japanese textbook', Japanese-Language Education around the Globe, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 49-67.
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In Japanese "female language" and "male language" are "language resources" (Nakamura 2007), which people use or avoid using to construct one's gender identities. This study examined a business Japanese textbook from gender perspective. In order to understand the Japanese language teaching and learning practices in terms of gender, the study engaged in the content analysis of the textbook, email interviews of the textbook writers, classroom observations, as well as interviews of the teacher and students. The discussion of data includes how gender was understood, and expressed in the textbook and how it was taught and learned using the textbook. The study found that it is difficult for even the most experienced teacher to critically consume the textbook content; and the events surrounding the textbook are quite complex. It therefore suggests the needs for textbooks to have explicit explanations and tasks that enable learners to use the "language resources" effectively. The paper also advocates the multi-perspective textbook analysis in order to capture the complexity.
Maher, D., Seaton, L., McMullen, C.M., Fitzgerald, T., Otsuji, E. & Lee, A. 2008, ''Becoming and being writers': the experiences of doctoral students in writing groups', Studies in Continuing Education, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 263-275.
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The use of writing groups to support students undertaking post-graduate research within universities has begun to receive attention from academic supervisors and doctoral researchers. Very little has been written by doctoral students themselves on the benefits of working within such writing groups. In this article, the experiences of working within a doctoral writing group at an Australian University are presented, primarily from the perspective of students. The authors identify two main benefits they have experienced through participating in a writing group using a 'multi-voiced' approach. First, they discuss the kind of learning that they achieved through working in a writing group. They do this with reference to key principles of peer learning and of peer review. Second, they focus on the ways the group worked as a community of discursive social practice. An overarching message for them in participating in the group and now writing this article is the shift in their thinking and experience of writing from seeing writing as an essentially private and implicit process to writing becoming a matter of public and shared work. These two notions are bound by the concept of identity building, drawing from the literature on communities of practice.
Kinoshita Thomson, C. & Otsuji, E. 2003, 'Evaluation of Business Japanese Textbooks: Issues of Gender', Japanese Studies, vol. 23, no. 2 September, pp. 185-203.
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