Despite its monolingual self-image, Japan is multilingual and growing more so due to indigenous minority language revitalization and as an effect of migration. Besides Japan's autochthonous languages such as the Ainu and Ryukyuan languages, there are more than 75,000 immigrant children in the Japanese public education system alone who came to Japan in the 1980s and who speak more than a hundred different languages. Added to this growing linguistic diversity, the importance of English as the language of international communication in business and science especially is hotly debated.
This book analyses how this linguistic diversity, and indeed recognition of this phenomenon, presents a wide range of sociolinguistic challenges and opportunities in fundamental institutions such as schools, in cultural patterns and in social behaviours and attitudes. This topic is an important one as Japan fights to re-establish itself in the new world order and will be of interest to all those who are concerned language change, language versus dialect, the effect of modern technology on language usage, and the way national and social problems are always reflected through the prism of language.
Foreword Florian Coulmas Preface 1. Modern and late modern perspectives on language life in Japan Patrick Heinrich and Christian Galan 2. Language rights in Japan: what is it good for? Goro Christoph Kimura 3. Difficulties of establishing heritage language education in Uchinaa Patrick Heinrich 4. The emerging borderless community in the local radio in Uchinaa Yuko Sugita 5. Out of this world, in this world, or both? The Japanese school at the threshold Christian Galan 6. Japan’s literacy myth and its social functions Hitoshi Yamashita 7. Standardization and de-standardization processes in spoken Japanese Fumio Inoue 8. Constraints on language use in public broadcasting Takehiro Shioda 9. Technology and writing system in Japan Nanette Gottlieb 10. Modernity rewritten: linguistic landscaping in Tokyo Peter Backhaus 11. Language, power and politeness in business meetings in Japan Hiromasa Tanaka and Aya Sugiyama 12. Japanese as an international language Tessa Carroll 13. Prospects and prerequisites for a Japanese third way policy Takao Katsuragi Bibliography