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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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Genbun Itchi and Kokugo

Genbun Itchi and Kokugo

(p.38) Chapter 2 Genbun Itchi and Kokugo
The Ideology of Kokugo

Lee Yeounsuk

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses the efforts to create an image of a language that was spoken by an anonymous “nation-people,” an indefinite “somebody” who could be anyone from the upper or lower class of samurai, merchants, or peasants. For that purpose, it was necessary to represent a pure linguistic model not contaminated by geographical and social variations. The reality was, however, that such odorless, transparent language could not be found anywhere—yet the logic of linguistic representation itself formulates criteria for these variants to measure the degree of their variation. Such manipulation was the prerequisite and core of the idea of kokugo, and the newly created linguistic form to carry out this idea in Meiji was the genbun itchi.

Keywords:   linguistic model, geographical and social variations, linguistic representation, linguistic variations, genbun itchi, kokugo

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