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The Ideology of KokugoNationalizing Language in Modern Japan$
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Yeounsuk Lee

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833053

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833053.001.0001

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Language and the Imagined Community

(p.1) Prologue
The Ideology of Kokugo

Lee Yeounsuk

University of Hawai'i Press

This prologue argues that the concept of kokugo (national language) can exist only if all those who live in this political and social space called Japan believe that they are speaking the same Japanese language. That is, the foundation of kokugo calls for the belief that there is a solid consistency in the language beyond the actual variations: the belief in the imagined homogeneity of kokugo is essential, relegating actual variations to secondary importance. Obviously, in order to institutionalize kokugo, these variants had to be extinguished politically through a standardization of the language. However, the nature of language itself does not allow complete homogeneity. Therefore, the establishment of kokugo, along with the actual policies of standardization, required the production of an imaginaire.

Keywords:   kokugo, nihongo, national language, homogeneity, standardization, language standardization, linguistic variations, Japanese language

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