In this paper recent trends of multilingual usage in
Japan will be treated from the standpoint of the economy of language. Four
different stages of language use are characterized on the basis of observation.
The basic underlying idea is that general attitudes to language use in Japan can
be categorized into four main types, if the notation or writing system (kanji,
katakana and alphabetic notation) is taken into consideration. These four types
can be applied not only to the Japanese notation system, but also to language
use and dialect use. Various sociolinguistic phenomena seem to have the same
social background. However, because of limitations of space, I will concentrate
on the use of kanji, katakana and alphabetic notations in Japanese. The four
types are (1) the kanji-dominant type, (2) the katakana-dominant type, (3) the
alphabet-dominant type, and (4) the alphabet-plus type. They will be discussed
one by one in this order. The kanji dominant type is associated with the
cognitive use of British English, the katakana dominant type with the affective
use of American English, the alphabet dominant type with the symbolic use of
international English, and the alphabet-plus type with the practical use of
various indigenous systems of writing. The first three types coincide with three
kinds of social attitudes towards dialects in Japan: from ‘‘dialect
eradication’’ through ‘‘dialect description’’ to ‘‘dialects for pleasure’’. The
basic underlying mechanism of language attitude is probably common to all types.
These attitudes can be understood as an integrated process of the modernization
of Japanese, as discussed by Neustupný in this issue.
In this paper two simplification techniques are used in order to represent geographical distribution patterns of standard Japanese. The first technique is a representation of two-dimensional geographical distribution patterns in one dimension. The second is the plotting of geographical locations making use of railway distances from cultural centres. By simplifying the two-dimensional geographical distribution into one by railway distance, another dimension on a sheet of paper can show one other characteristic of standard Japanese forms. In order to see the patterns of distribution of Japanese standard forms, numerical data based on the Linguistic Atlas of Japan are utilized. Gravity centres of railway distance are calculated for each standard Japanese form, and correspondence with the degree of nationwide usage and the year of first attestation in historical documents is considered. Two-dimensional graphs (scattergrams) of the three factors are considered.