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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 26, 2005

Regional dialect and cultural development in Japan and Europe

  • Kiyoshi Hara


Linguistic revitalization is not confined to minority languages or endangered languages alone but includes regional dialects. This paper examines the case of Japan, starting with the experiences of the Ryūkyū archipelago and then that of other regions in mainland Japan. Following this discussion, the case of Jersey in the Channel Islands will be discussed for the sake of comparison. It is argued that dialectal revitalization movements are cultural phenomena of developed countries. Language revitalization movements are analyzed mainly from a sociological point of view. In particular, the relationship of the private sector and public authorities, involvement of local intellectuals and activists, intergenerational problems, cultural linkage, traditional festivals and cultural and economic effects on local populations are investigated. As a representative example, the dialect movement of Okinawa Island is discussed in greater detail here. Okinawan movements must be considered threshold cases between minority language and dialect revitalization movements. The Amami island group furthermore provides us with a comparative case to Jersey. Although dialect revitalization movements draw less attention than those concerning minority languages, they are also affected by changing language regimes. We can, therefore, expect that these movements will continue to influence language attitudes toward regional dialects as well as toward standard languages.

Published Online: 2005-10-26
Published in Print: 2005-11-18

Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG

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