Japanese dialects

Authored by: Shinji Sanada

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415790277
eBook ISBN: 9781315213378
Adobe ISBN:


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Japanese dialect research is one of the sources that has flowed into the grand river of sociolinguistics in Japan. Since 1970, the views and theories of sociolinguistics in the West has had a strong influence on Japanese dialect research itself. In this chapter, I discuss the development of socio-dialectology as one who has been working in those tides. It is also a summary of my own research trajectory. It was in the field of dialectology in which we were conducting research on the language actually used in Japanese society when research about Japanese language meant historical research based on literature. In the linguistic geography of Japan, various experimental investigations were carried out from the latter half of the 1950s to the 1960s. As a clue to reconstitute the history of words from the geographical distribution, the choice of informants started not just with the native speakers of the place, but various social factors began to be considered. Focusing on an area as a factor was a natural consequence for linguistic geography aimed at capturing linguistic changes in the community. Analyzing the social attributes of speakers not limited to NORMs (Non-mobile, Old, Rural, Male), which has been criticized in traditional dialectology, the diversity of languages in the community, and also the attempt to examine the spreading of language change in a multifaceted manner were seen as pioneering for the field of sociolinguistics in Japan.

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