Things you have to leave behind
The demise of “elegant writing” and the rise of genbun itchi style in Meiji-period Japan
The paper examines the abandonment of an established style of writing called gabun ‘elegant writing’ and the emergence of a new style termed genbun itchi ‘unity of spoken and written language’ in nineteenth century Japan, focusing on a language ideological debate that occurred in 1889 in a journal called Bun. The stylistic reform of written Japanese was one of the most contested reforms during Japan’s modernisation and it is the aim of the present study to provide a close-up inspection of social struggles and redistribution of power that accompanied the Japanese modernisation and the appearance of a modern Japanese voice. The emergence of genbun itchi writing presupposed that notions of cultural capital needed to be altered and newly distributed which coincided with a redefinition of who could be seen as an expert and authority on language. Therefore the present paper focused on language ideological notions and power issues behind the debate between proponents and opponents of genbun itchi writing.
Published online: 22 February 2005
Cited by 3 other publications
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