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The Fall of Language in the Age of English$
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Minae Mizumura

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231163026

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231163026.001.0001

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The Birth of Japanese as a National Language

The Birth of Japanese as a National Language

Chapter:
(p.103) 4. The Birth of Japanese as a National Language
Source:
The Fall of Language in the Age of English
Author(s):

Minae Mizumura

, Mari Yoshihara, Juliet Winters Carpenter
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231163026.003.0004

This chapter examines the development of Japanese as a national language in the early twentieth century. It presents Minae Mizumura's three conditions that had enabled the rise of the Japanese language. First, Japan already had a written language that was quite mature and was held in high regard. Second, the nation enjoyed what Benedict Anderson called “print capitalism” during the Edo period, which enabled the written language to circulate widely. The third condition was the Japanese victory at the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The war held a symbolic meaning as it was the first time that a non-Western nation had defeated a Western power. Mizumura notes that the victory, which had been made possible through the modernization policies enacted through the Meiji Restoration in the late Edo period, established the Japanese language both in name and in practice. She also highlights the novel's critical role in spreading nationalism.

Keywords:   Japanese language, national language, Russo-Japanese War, Minae Mizumura, written language, Benedict Anderson, print capitalism, Meiji Restoration, nationalism

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