JSAA 2019

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Speaker Presentation Titles

Professor Michael Emmerich

Literature and Translation, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California Los Angeles

Presentation Title: On Listening: Murakami Haruki and the Prejudices of Global Literature.

Murakami Haruki is exceptional in many ways, among them the extent of the popularity his works have achieved in translations around the world, and the persistence with which critics have framed this very popularity as an index of his failure to be “Japanese” enough. 

Taking as its starting point Murakami’s first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, this talk will propose a new understanding of the global as it pertains to literature, and to notions of literary centres and peripheries, that better accords not only with Murakami’s career as a writer, but also with a broadly shared understanding of what it is professors of literature are trying to accomplish in the classroom.

Professor Nobuko Kibe

Deputy Director-General of National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics

Presentation Title: Reporting on endangered languages and dialects in Japan: Their recording, conservation, and transmission.

In 2009, UNESCO reported that approximately 2,500 languages in the world are at risk of extinction (“Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger”). Eight languages spoken in Japan are on the list: Ainu in Hokkaido, Yonaguni, Yaeyama, Miyako, Okinawan and Kunigami in Okinawa, Amami in Kagoshima, and Hachijō in Tokyo. In addition, dialects of Japanese that are not on the list are also in danger of extinction.

This progressed as a consequence of suppressing dialects to promote the standardization of Japanese until around 1970 as well as a rapid drift of population from country to city after 1945. For example, schools in Okinawa, Kagoshima and Tohoku regions forced students who used their dialect to wear a tag called ‘Hōgenfuda’ as a punishment.

In order to record and conserve these languages and dialects, NINJAL has led a collaborative research project ‘Endangered Languages and Dialects in Japan’ since 2010. In this presentation, I will introduce the kinship terminologies in Kikai-jima dialect in Kagoshima and Yonaguni dialect in Okinawa, which is different from standard Japanese in terms of the following; In Kikai-jima dialect, there is a change whereby ‘jakkii’ and ‘anii’ originally referred to elder brother and sister but are now used for father and mother. In addition, ‘zjuu’ and ‘ammaa’ for father and mother has shifted to grandfather and grandmother.

It suggests a move of the kinship terms drifting one generation up.

In Yonaguni dialect, ‘ubuda’ is used when younger brothers call the eldest brother while younger sisters use ‘ubja’. They differentiate the kinship terms by gender of a referrer. These features are linguistically and culturally invaluable. NINJAL has been creating and storing records and also supporting activities and events for passing down the languages and dialects to the next generation.

Professor Urs Matthias Zachmann

History and Culture, Institute of East Asian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Presentation Title: "Visions of Future Past: Planning for Victory in Wartime Tokyo, 1937-1945"