The Art of Autoethnography: Part IV





Below is a table detailing the assumptions I made of the assumptions I had after my first autoethnographic encounter and what was learnt through further literature research. While not all my assumptions were completely wrong I definitely still had a lot to learn.

What I am also finding is that the more involved I become in this autoethnographic study, the more interested I become in the cultural significance and background of the Bollywood film industry. this has unintentionally caused some of my research to go off in a tangent to some extent, relating less to language acquisition and more to the cultural language study of the Bollywood genre. I am finding that I either need to shift to topic of my auto ethnographic study or attempt to refocus.

Assumptions Reflection
The assumption that was made was in relation to the parameters od the autoethnographic research. Initially I set out that I would use multiple media texts in my methodology to obtain personal experience. I believe that this assumption was a little presumptuous. Even though I knew it would be difficult to learn some aspects of the language I did not realize how difficult it would be. I can to the realisation that little would be gain from this experience if I was to continue in the same fashion viewing multiple types of texts to acquire even the most basic level of language acquisition when starting from scratch. In reflection I believe that the greatest personal experience will come from focusing on one individual text and to absorb this text on a number of occasions and then focus my research around this. A number of factors play a part in the change of the parameters of my methodology. The first is the time period over which this research was conducted and the hours that could be dedicated to it. The most important factor was though the lack of a foundation of understanding of the Hindu language. Due to this I have now watched the same Bollywood film three times and each time I find myself picking up on some new words even if only for a moment and reaffirming the ones I have previously picked up. I also become more aware of different aspects of other communication aspects present in the film.
In my first notes I stated that the Bollywood movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was produced using the Hindi language and that because it is a contemporary media text it would provide a context for the language that included slang and colloquial language. ‘Bollywood productions are today acknowledged as the generator of and vehicle for contemporary popular culture in India.’ (Goethe Institute, 2016). My assumption while correct was also limited and basic. The language used in Bollywood films is much complex then simply Hindi. English was used in the film not only when on location in an English speaking country but also the occasional modern words which are the same in both English and Hindi, for example the word internet. According to the Goethe Institute (2016) The language used in Bollywood films has a distinctive supra-regional integrative quality. ‘The code switches between sociolects, standard languages and distinct Persian and distinct Persian or Sanscrit features, jargons with regional variants right through to other Indian national languages such as Panjabi, Marathi, Gurarati and not least English’ This is throughout films in the Bollywood genre.
While this assumption is not related to language acquisition I thought it was important to note that when I first watched this Bollywood film something about the premise of this music seemed strange and stupid to me. Upon critical analysis of this observation I was able to gain a better understanding of why they premise of this musical seemed so foreign to me. I am used to watching musicals that are either produced on Broadway or in Hollywood. Musicals made in Hollywood and on Broadway tend to focus around entertainers because they are focused on making the musical aspect of the story seem as realistic as possible. Though according to research ‘Bollywood is not encumbered with adherence to realism’ (The Bollywood Ticket, 2016). This knowledge to make a better understanding as to why this this musical seemed so strange to me. Unconsciously I felt disconnected from the storyline because it lacked that realism that I am used to in musicals.
Never did I have the assumption that I would be able to gain a complete understanding of the Hindi language simply through studying media text produced in this language. Though I did assume that when were hear of people acquiring a language through media that it is all they have used. It is evident through the research conducted that while media texts provide a great tool in the acquisition of a language, it is simply a part of the process and other learning is needed this can take place through classes in a more formal context, though in a less formal one it could simply be researching on the internet. Aiping et. al. (2016) in the article Exploring learner factors in second language (L2) incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading, states that ‘second language incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading usually involves the process of through reading usually involves the process of learners noticing an unknown word, searching for its meaning, and elaborating upon the form meaning connection’. Learning a language through listening in this case is quite similar, it is all part of a process and in most cases further research is conducted to obtain a complete understanding of the language.


Resource List

Aiping, Z, Ying, G, Biales, C, & Olszewski, A 2016, ‘Exploring learner factors in second language (L2) incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading’, Reading In A Foreign Language, 28, 2, pp. 224-245, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 October 2016.

Goethe Institute (2016). Multilingualism – Languages Without Borders – Projects – Goethe-Institut. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016]. (2016). Introduction to Bollywood – The Bollywood Ticket. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].

Can you talk the talk?

I realized at this stage in my research I needed to start digging a little deeper because I have only really scratched the surface of a topic that has many offshoots. I came up with some blog ideas to investigate over the next few weeks that should help me achieve two primary goals: a) learn more about the active hentai community through reading a wide range of forum threads and b) uncover the historical and cultural roots that have made hentai what it is today. As Ellis et al. says, “when researchers write ethnographies, they produce a “thick description” of a culture”. I feel that comparing and contrasting literature on the subject with my own interpretation of how this is reflected in participants’ interactions online will facilitate my role as autoethnographer in discerning patterns of cultural experience and synthesizing them to produce a meaningful and engaging text on the subject.

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My initial reaction to trawling the forums was how difficult it is for an outsider to familiarize themselves with the hentai vernacular, which is littered with translated, abbreviated and appropriated Japanese phrases describing a variety of hentai phenomenon. I have talked about Ecchi in a previous discussion, but Ecchi is only the beginning. This Wiki page shows some of the other hentai subgenres, but I don’t think it’s a comprehensive list. More comprehensive is this page – a glossary of hentai terms (the sheer volume of terms is slightly overwhelming to me as newcomer). I was pretty surprised when I stumbled upon one forum thread titled ‘What do you most like in hentai?’ and one user answered ‘shimapan’. Of course Google gave me some answers: shimapan is an abbreviation of shima-pantsu, meaning striped panties, most commonly blue and white. And yes, before you ask there ARE a plenty of blogs already dedicated to appeasing the shimapan fans. Funnily enough there is also a Japanese term to describe people in anime/manga fandoms with obsessive interests: Otaku.

While Otaku is the word used in this specific context, I would relate this phenomenon more broadly to fetishes, which emerge from all cultures globally. From a psychoanalytical perspective, a fetish is an “object providing sexual gratification… among the objects frequently sought as fetishistic are shoes, bras and panties, etc.” (Lowenstein 2002: 135-136). The idea that some hentai fans have a preference for shimapan fits neatly into this definition. After contemplating it more deeply and reflecting on this further research, I feel more empathetic towards those discussing their fetishes in forums in such a forthright manner. I certainly don’t believe it’s anything to be ashamed of (unless of course your fetish is liable to cause harm to another person), and it’s great that the Internet has produced a platform for people to discuss what might otherwise be considered ‘oddities’, save for the fact that they now form part of a community with similar interests.

Maybe I am part of the in-group now, cause I get it!

Maybe I am part of the in-group now, cause I get it!

As I touched on before, a lot of what constitutes this community is underscored by the language used. Scholars attests to the relationship between language and (sub)cultural identity (Jaspal 2009: 17), and it seems to me that knowledge and usage of all these terms by Japanese and non-Japanese speaking participants is the marker that binds together an otherwise potentially diverse group and expresses the unique character of the hentai community.  Of course for me contributing to the forums at this stage will draw attention to the fact that I’m from the outgroup as I still don’t possess the proper lexicon that would show me to be a bon-fide member, nor am I familiar with any of the hentai series under discussion. I’ve always been interested in language and etymology but the research led me to start thinking more about the language of identity and the way language becomes a kind of currency within a subculture. You use it to communicate with others, but you also use it to gain access, acceptance and credibility within a specific community. If you can’t talk the talk, you definitely can’t walk the walk.

Ellis, C., Adams, T. E. and Bochner, A. P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: an overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, viewed online at

Jaspal, R. 2009, ‘Language and social identity: A psychosocial approach’, Psych-Talk

Lowenstein, L. F. 2002, ‘Fetishes and their associated behaviour’, Sexuality and Disability, vol. 20, no. 2