The Japanese Language before Kokugo: Views of Mori Arinori and Baba Tatsui
This introductory chapter goes back to the time before the establishment of kokugo and looks into the thinking of those who were not at all certain about the existence of a “single Japanese language.” It argues that the Japanese language had not been perceived as an autonomous unity before the idea of kokugo. Thus the chapter presents the insights of two figures in the debates about kokugo and its merits as the national language in post-Meiji Japan: Mori Arinori and Baba Tatsui. Facing the unresolved state of the Japanese language in early Meiji, Mori and Baba each developed a theory: Mori concluded that the Japanese language was not unified enough to support the modern nation, and he proposed as a remedy adopting English as a national language; Baba refuted Mori, warning that the adoption of English would destroy the unity of the Japanese people.
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