Special Session

The Special Session on Endangered and Understudied Languages and Dialects in Japan and Korea (organized by Shoichi Iwasaki & William O’Grady)

October 13th, 2017: 9:10-12:00

[Center for Korean Studies Auditorium]

9:10-12:00 Special Session
Organized by Shoichi Iwasaki and William O’Grady

9:00-9:15 Opening Remarks

9:15-9:45 On the anaphoric use of demonstratives in Miyakoan
Tomohide Kinuhata (Fukuoka University) & Yuka Hayashi (JSPS/NINJAL)

9:45-10:15 Dialects in diaspora or diaspora dialects: Distinguishing transplanted varieties of Korean
Simon Barnes-Sadler (SOAS, University of London)

10:15-10:25 Coffee break [CKS lobby]

10:25-10:55 Spatial frames of reference in Miyako: Digging into Whorfian linguistic relativity
Kenan Celik (Kyoto University), Yukinori Takubo (Kyoto University) & Rafael
Núñez (University of California, San Diego)

10:55-11:25 Integrating analysis and pedagogy in the revitalization of Jejueo
William O’Grady (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa), Changyong Yang (Jeju National University) & Sejung Yang (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa)

11:25-12:00 Panel Discussion 
Moderated by Shoichi Iwasaki
Discussants: Yukinori Takubo (Kyoto University), Nobuko Kibe (NINJAL), Sejung Yang (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa) and William O’Grady (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa)

Statement on Language Endangerment in Japan and Korea

Since the publication in 1992 of a special issue of Language devoted to the problem of language endangerment,* there has been a general consensus that our responsibility as professional linguists extends beyond the challenges of linguistic analysis. We also have a duty to educate the public about language, especially on matters that involve social policy and communal welfare.

As linguists, we lament the ever-accelerating loss of linguistic diversity in the world, not only because of our scientific interest in the properties of language but also because we recognize that language is integral to a community’s identity, as well as an essential part of the cultural history and heritage of the nation in which it is spoken.

As specialists in the languages of Japan and Korea, it is our professional responsibility to educate our colleagues, as well as the general public, about linguistic diversity and language endangerment in those countries, with special attention to the following vital facts:

  • Varieties of speech that are not mutually intelligible are, by definition, distinct languages, regardless of their official or popular classification as dialects of the national language.
  • Both Japan and Korea are linguistically diverse countries. In addition to rich and well documented dialectal variation, both are home to indigenous languages other than the official national language. These languages include Amami, Kunigami, Okinawan, Miyako, Yaeyama, Yonaguni, Hachijo and Ainu in the case of Japan and Jejueo in the case of Korea.
  • It is possible that new research in each country will lead to the reclassification of other speech varieties as languages rather than dialects.
  • The currently identified minority languages of both countries are critically endangered. The situation has been exacerbated by stigmatization and official neglect stemming from ignorance about the status of these languages and their importance to the cultural fabric of the nations in which they are spoken. Without intervention, they will soon disappear forever.
  • It is often possible to revitalize endangered languages if prompt action is taken by the appropriate agencies working in cooperation with trained linguists and with the communities where those languages are spoken.

The local JK25 organizers would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all linguists working on Japanese and/or Korean to recognize the urgency of this

matter. Because JK is not a membership organization, we are unable to put forward a resolution on which to vote. However, we would like to send the above statement to the Linguistic Society of Japan and the Linguistic Society of Korea, with copies to the Consulates of Japan and Korea in Honolulu. If you share our view, we would like to ask you to grant permission to include your name and affiliation in support of the proposed statement.

* Hale, Ken, Michael Krauss, Lucille J. Watahomigie, Akira Y. Yamamoto, Colette Craig, LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne, Nora C. England. 1992. Endangered languages. Language 68(1), 1-42.

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