Polysemy of ‘Common Language’ and the Modern Japanese Nation: The Universalization of a ‘Standard Language’ to correct ‘Dialects’?
Keywords:common words, common language, standard language, national language, spoken and written language
In this paper, the term futsūgo (common language) was viewed over two periods. The first period (1880s-1894) was concerned with education but aimed to establish everyday, commonplace language and script that was familiar to the populace. However, by the 1890s, the policy of Europeanization was being reconsidered, and national consciousness was on the rise. The second period (1894-early 1900s), with the start of the Sino-Japanese War, saw an increase in the national consciousness in strengthening both literary and military arts, with a desire for the establishment of an artificially unified language with artificial rules that would unify the populace and the nation. The natural shift from the populace’s everyday commonplace language to a unified national language became possible through the linguistic logic, or mediation of terminology, seen in the single (but ambiguous) word futsūgo.
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