Sociolinguistics in Japanese Contexts

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

14. Dialect formation in a settlement

0. Introductory notes by the editors

In this chapter, the linguistic consequences of settlement by migration are analyzed. The area of the fieldwork is a small island in the Ryûkyû or Nansei (South-western) Islands. Dialectal expressions from two settlements are examined from a linguistic geographical point of view. Linguistic geographical surveys have often ignored newly settled villages because the language there was not considered to be pure, and because information from such villages offers no keys to a historical reconstruction of the language of the area. In the survey of Tokunoshima discussed here, however, all the villages were investigated, and two villages were found which had a history of recent migrations from nearby villages. Several items showed common characteristics with the “mother” village (where the settlers came from) in spite of a separation of more than 200 years. These results may be contrasted with the situation in Hokkaido (the Northern-most island in Japan), the Japanese frontier area in the modern era.

The author also refers to the United States and Australia, and states that 200 years is not enough for a new dialect to be established. In the future, universal sociolinguistic tendencies in this field must be pursued by acquiring data from as many cases as possible from all over the world. The present study is a precursor to the recent body of work in ‘new dialect’ formation.

Figure 14–0. Tokunoshima

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