Language, Ideology and Japanese History Textbooks

Language, Ideology and Japanese History Textbooks

Language, Ideology and Japanese History Textbooks

Language, Ideology and Japanese History Textbooks

Excerpt

This book has its origins in my work on Japanese high school history textbooks (e.g. Barnard 1998a, 1998b, 2000a, 2000b, 2001, forthcoming). As far as I know, this is the only research which approaches the ‘Japanese history textbook problem’ from a linguistic point of view, rather than from the point of view of a sociologist, anthropologist, historian, specialist in education, or in Japanese Studies. My interest is specifically in critical discourse analysis. Critical discourse approaches to language frequently seek to answer questions related to how language creates meanings, the range of meanings that a language can create, why particular choices from the language system are made on particular occasions, and what other choices could have been made, what other meanings would have been created if different language had been used, how language influences society, and, in turn, how society is influenced by language. It is with such questions in mind that I will address the language data that form the subject of this study.

It is convenient, here, to explain the general organization of this book. Chapter 1 deals with the political and social background to the history textbook problem in Japan, including the compulsory textbook authorization system of the Ministry of Education. In this chapter, the meaning of the word ‘ideology’ is defined and the connection between language and ideology is discussed with some illustrative examples. A major part of this chapter is devoted to introducing systemic-functional grammar, the particular model of grammar that is used in this book as a tool for critical discourse analysis.

Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 deal, respectively, with the following historical events: the Rape of Nanking, the Japanese attacks which started the Pacific War, and the Japanese surrender in 1945. In each chapter, a somewhat different approach is taken to the linguistic analysis of the data. The general conclusions are that the language of . . .

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