From Kokugo to Nihongo in the Context of the Japanese Language/Attitudes Toward English in Japan in Relation to English as a Global Language
Jin, Cordelia H
Abstract 1:The development and transition of kokugo to the modern nihongo was nothing short of a political movement pioneered by the Japanese government. Despite the lack of intent to change the name from kokugo to nihongo in 1997, the official name change of the Japanese language occurred in 2004, after members of the board of the Society of Japanese Linguistics voted by majority to proceed with the change. Though it may not have been a deliberate attempt to jumpstart internationalization and modernization in Japan, the change from kokugo to nihongo contributed to the rise of Japan on an international scale, providing an opening for people all over the world to pay attention to and gain interest in Japan and specifically, the Japanese language. In understanding how a simple change of a term could possibly have such profound effects on a country, this paper delves into the linguistic intricacies and cultural nuances that both kokugo and nihongo represent, and how a country's national language is able to shape the way a country functions. Abstract 2: In the history of Japanese education, English education has played a large role in the development of Japan’s education system and Japan’s international status. During the English Boom in the first part of the Meiji Era, the desire to learn English was closely tied with the drive to radicalize and jumpstart government, politics, and economics. After the capital of Japan transitioned from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1868, a period that is known as the Meiji Ishin, or Meiji Restoration, took place. The goal of the process was to ultimately ‘westernize’ Japan. However, despite governmental efforts to utilize the English language as a means of catching up to and operating on the same global level as the West, Japanese citizens found themselves fighting the urge to master the English language. Although it may be true that had the Japanese government chosen to abolish Japanese as the national language and instead adopt English, that perhaps Japan would be able to rise to the same level of power and world status as the United States stands today, there is also the difficult and problematic question of race and the linguistic superiority complex that native English speakers hold. This paper attempts to suggest that in lieu of encouraging, to the point of mandating, linguistic homogeneity to level out an international playing field, encouraging linguistic diversity may instead be the key.
M.A., Asian Studies
Master of Arts
dissertation or thesis