Professor Authors Book on Japanese National Language
The creation of the Japanese national language is the focus of a new book by Dr. Paul Clark, associate professor of history at West Texas A&M University.
The Kokugo Revolution: Education, Identity and Language Policy in Imperial Japan was released in November by the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California at Berkeley. He has invested several years in planning, writing and traveling to Japan to complete the work. A 2006 Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship allowed Clark to spend several months in Japan to complete his research.
“The Japanese national language, in its contemporary form, is only about 100 years old,” Clark said. “The country had many dialects, and Japanese officials realized that if the country was going to have nationwide standards in education and a mobile population, the people must be able to communicate. The government then started looking at the different dialects as the first step in the creation of a national standard.”
Clark said the book isn’t a textbook, but could be used in the classroom to augment learning. It looks at the development of the Japanese national language while examining the country’s early forms of spoken and written Japanese. The book also looks at the effects of the national language on Japan’s educational system.
“The Japanese people have an almost spiritual bond with their language,” Clark said. “They are very protective of it.”
Clark is no stranger to Japan or its language. He earned his Ph.D. in East Asian History from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Kansas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Baylor University. Clark also has lived and studied in Japan.
For more information about Clark’s book, visit http://ieas.berkeley.edu/publications/jrm16.html.