Hal Daume over at his natural language processing blog articulates a lament well known to linguists:
At the end of my four years, I was speaking to a frien (who was neither a conversation partner nor a prof) in Japanese and after about three turns of conversation, he says to me (roughly): "you talk like a girl."
As I posted in his comments section, this is a familiar situation. English speaking men (and probably others) often learn a form of Japanese that could be referred to as “women’s Japanese”. The most probable reason for this is the large percentage of female teachers of Japanese. I have no clue what the actual percentage is. If anyone knows, please post me a comment.
I've never studied Japanese, so I don't know the facts, but Wikipedia has a page called Gender differences in spoken Japanese which makes the following claim: “Feminine speech includes the use of specific personal pronouns... omission of the copula da, use of feminine sentence finals such as wa, and the more frequent use of the honorific prefixes o and go.”
I did a quick bit of Googling and offer this as a brief bibliography of articles and research on the subject (with the caveat that I haven’t reviewed any of this and make no claims regarding the veracity of these works):
I sound like what in Japanese? by Matthew Rusling
Manifestations of Gender Distinction in the Japanese Language. by Alexander Schonfeld
Stanford Japanese page. Unknown author.
Gender performance and intonation in a Japanese sentence-final particle yo.ne [PPT]
Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern
Here are several papers from the 9th International Pragmatics Conference (July 10 - 15, 2005;
The construction of Standard Japanese women's language from 1920's to 1945. by
Constructing Linguistic Femininity in Contemporary