Sociolinguistics in Japanese Contexts

By Tetsuya Kunihiro; Fumio Inoue et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

11. The age structure of the speech community

0. Introductory notes by the editors

In this paper, written several years after the Second World War, the author deals with linguistic differences among age groups. Age differences had often been accepted rather naively as direct reflections of linguistic change. Labov’ s distinction between apparent-time change and real-time change was useful in alerting scholars to the importance of age differences. Here Dr. Sibata shows quite clearly through concrete examples that age differences do not necessarily parallel linguistic change. In many kinds of linguistic surveys, it has been observed that socially active age groups often lead in change. Social and psychological mechanisms may explain this. We can add the concept of the gengo-keisei-kilanguage formation period’ (the critical period, usually during the elementary and junior high school years, in which a person’s linguistic systems form) to this paradigm of the universal sociolinguistic tendencies of age.

The age structure of Standard Language pronunciation usage was found to have changed when a second investigation in Tsuruoka city was carried out 20 years later, thus showing language change in real time. But it still held true that the youngest children were not always the users of the newest linguistic forms. The distinction of linguistic change from below and from above should shed even more light on this kind of research, but there is still a need to study the effects of age in many language situations throughout the world.

The Tsuruoka survey was repeated for the third time in 1991 (Yoneda 1997). Comparative studies on the age structures revealed in these three surveys will undoubtedly lead to the formation of an improved model of language change.

1. Differentiation of linguistic behavior by the age of members of
speech communities

The title of this paper, “the age structure of the speech community”, refers to differences in linguistic behavior as reflected in the age of the members of a speech community. Strictly speaking, it is thought that differences in linguistic behavior in a community are dependent on combinations of various socialenvironmental conditions, but what can be said when such differences are looked at from the viewpoint of age? Here we will be concerned with over-all patterns in a community, not with differences among individual members.

The term “speech community” may sound unfamiliar. It refers to a community from the point of view of linguistic behavior. Note the similarities with the term “language life”, a term which is becoming popular in Japan, meaning life from the viewpoint of linguistic behavior. The Japanese term gengo-chiiki-shakai corre


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Sociolinguistics in Japanese Contexts
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 492

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?