UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

National and colonial language discourses in Japan and its colonies, 1868-1945 Hattori, Mina


This thesis focuses on the colonialist discourse in Japanese linguistics in the period from 1868 to 1945, the time when Japan changed from a semi-feudal isolated country to a modernized nation and a colonizer. To address the complexity caused by such rapid development, and namely, to show how modernization and colonialism shaped Japanese language studies during this period, I present my analysis in two parts: the first part explores multiple facets of Japanese language education in the colonial period, both on Japanese territory and in Japanese colonies, particularly on the Korean Peninsula; the second part is a study of language manuals for Japanese soldiers. Although I examine some multilingual manuals, my main focus is on Korean language manuals because their number far exceeds that of other languages and also because Korea is my primary research area. My claim is that a careful examination of language manuals as well as of Japanese language education both in Japan and its colonies reveals one of the characteristic features of Japanese colonial linguistics: a situation when a standard-in-the-making was simultaneously being exported to colonial sites with variable success rates. Before the Japanese language went abroad, and more importantly, after its export, the struggle over what kind of Japanese language to teach continued to be a matter of controversy and was never settled until the U.S. occupied Japan and implemented educational reforms. But superimposed on all the debates was always the conflicting concept of kokugo (national language), which was so over-politicized that it precluded the possibility of any academic reforms or structural refinements in tandem with its political expansion overseas. As my study shows, one of the reasons for this complexity was that not only nationalism but also pan-Asianist discourse played a significant role in the Japanese colonial enterprise in East Asia. The language manuals for Japanese soldiers that I examine were published between 1882 and 1935. As the publication years grow more recent, we can see, in the prefaces and the contents, shifts in the forms of nationalism and pan-Asianist rhetoric occurring simultaneously with the rise of colonialist discourse.

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