日本語が亡びるとき―英語の世紀の中で "The Fall of the Japanese Language in the Age of English" (2)

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Sep 13, 2012 06:34 Japanese
(previous
http://lang-8.com/odon/journals/1669357/)

In the last chapter of her book, "The Fall of the Japanese Language in the Age of English", the author, Minae Mizumura proposed a couple of plans for language education in Japan.

She says that first of all we have to think about English education in Japan, rather than education of the Japanese language.

Now that English is influential as the "universal language", we need to prepare a good number of people who can use English at a high level. There are three choices to do that.

I. Set English as the national language of Japan.
II. Pursue the goal that the Japanese speak both English and Japanese.
III. Pursue the goal that some Japanese people speak both English and Japanese.

Virtually nobody in Japan is seriously thinking about the choice I. Nevertheless, other countries might choose that option, if they consist of various ethnic groups and it is difficult to establish a single "national language."

Then, which is the policy of the Japanese government, II or III? Sadly, they have no policy, because of their lack of the awareness of the crisis, their lack of courage, and their lack of brain.

About 10 years ago, some people argued that Japan should use English as the second official language, in support of the choice II. The English-as-the-second-official-language movement was criticized and soon became unpopular.

Mizumura is against the movement, because she thinks that Japan won't have many foreign immigrants. At the moment, and probably in the future as well, English usage in Japan is, and will be, limited, she predicts.

However, she feels strongly sympathetic toward those who led the movement, in that they really worried about poor English of Japanese leaders, in particular diplomats.

For example, Edwin O. Reischauer, once the American ambassador to Japan, wrote in his book "The Japanese" (1977):

"During the last 20 years, I have become acquainted with tens of Japanese cabinet ministers. Among them, I can think of only three persons at most, when it comes to those who I can fully enjoy intellectual conversation in English with. I've met hundreds of professors of history, including those of Western history. The number of people with whom I can enjoy intellectual talk is not so different from that of the cabinet ministers." (This is my back-translation from Japanese translation.)

(to be continued)




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