104 years since the Japanese state formally designated a standard spoken language, Edwin Everhart argues that standardization is still an active process. Focusing on language of the Touhoku region, Everhart describes how some language users resist the hegemony of standard language and the discourse that local dialect is obsolescent, ugly, or backward. Drawing on ethnography, interviews, and archives of "language activists" from the last thirty years, he argues that this resistance can be understood in terms of the techniques and metaphors that activists use to legitimize their local language. In many cases, these rhetorical tools—for example, emphasizing the deep historical roots of dialect—are the same tools used in national language standardization. This duplication reveals part of why projects of national and local identity can be equally elusive: they rely on exclusion and erasure.
Dr. Edwin K. Everhart is a Center Associate at the University of Pittsburgh Asian Studies Center. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 2018, and has had his research funded by the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship. His research addresses dialect and accent discrimination in Japan and the United States.
To join this online lecture, please visit: https://pitt.zoom.us/j/570506078