First Advisor

Patricia J. Wetzel

Date of Publication

Summer 7-26-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures




Japanese language -- Social aspects -- Japan, Language policy -- Japan -- History, Japanese language -- Study and teaching -- Japan, Sociolinguistics -- Japan



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 82 pages)


The intent of this study is to examine the trajectory of ideology regarding standard Japanese and dialects from the historical perspective, and also to discuss the cause of the post-war shift of the ideology. Before the war, the government attempted to disseminate hyojun-go aiming at creating a unified Japan in the time when many countries were developing to be nation states after industrial revolution. After the Pacific war, the less strict-sounding term kyotsu-go was more often used, conveying an ideology of democratization. Yet despite the difference in the terms, speaking a common language continues to play a role of unifying the country.

Today there is great interest in regional dialects in Japan. Although kyotsu-go is the common language, most people, especially in urban areas, are familiar with (if not fluent in) kyotsu-go. Due to the development of media and mobilization there are few people who cannot understand kyotsu-go. However, until around the 1970s people were more likely to believe in the superiority of standard Japanese (hyojun-go). Standard language was believed to be superior as a result of language policy that had its origins in Meiji and lasted through WWII. This included education policy that required school children to learn hyojun-go. After the war, in a process of democratization there emerged greater acceptance of language variety: dialect. Thus, there has been a shift in language ideology in Japan, and the people's interests in dialects is one indicator of this. This shift is analyzed here from the perspective of Bourdieu's notion of social and linguistic capital, tying it to policy, historical events and societal change.


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