LINGUIST List 13.1342

Mon May 13 2002

Diss: History of Ling: Heinrich "Reception of..."

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  1. Patrick.Heinrich, History of Ling: Heinrich "Reception of Western Linguistics in Japan"

Message 1: History of Ling: Heinrich "Reception of Western Linguistics in Japan"

Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 03:10:54 +0000
From: Patrick.Heinrich <>
Subject: History of Ling: Heinrich "Reception of Western Linguistics in Japan"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Gerhard Mercator University of Duisburg
Program: Modern Japanese Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Patrick Heinrich 

Dissertation Title: 
The Reception of Western Linguistics in Japan

Linguistic Field: History of Linguistics

Subject Language: Japanese

Dissertation Director 1: Florian Coulmas
Dissertation Director 2: Josef Kreiner

Dissertation Abstract: 

The dissertation treats about 120 years of linguistic study in
Japan. It is divided into two larger parts, namely linguistics in the
pre- and the post-war period. Both parts are introduced by a chapter
treating the broader historical developments that have influenced and
shaped Japanese linguistics. The post-war period is further subdivided
into sections devoted to historical and structural linguistics on one
hand, and post-structural linguistics on the other. The
characterizations of Japanese linguistics as given in the dissertation
are sustained with the help of empirical data on various matters such
as the establishment of academic institutions, societies and journals,
the total output and the content of linguistic journals and
monographs, international academic exchange, the number of works
written in Western languages on Japanese, and the number and content
of linguistic monographs translated from Western languages into

It is argued that the development of Japanese linguistics can be
subdivided into three larger periods. According to this development a
growing convergence between the study of linguistics in Japan and the
West can be recognized: 

1. from the 1890s convergence with regards to the institutional
setting, academic training and publishing practices: Linguistics
became fully established as an independent academic discipline relying
on institutional settings and research practices adopted from the

2. from the 1930s convergence with regards of views towards the object
of research: The Japanese language became to be seen as an autonomous
and structured totality. The shift from a preoccupation with isolated
linguistic phenomena was at first limited to theoretical
considerations and only gained more influence on the concrete study of
Japanese in the 1950s.

3. from the 1970s convergence with regards to the methodology:
Japanese was increasingly studied along the lines of universal
approaches seeking insight into language through the study of
Japanese. This resulted in an increasingly internationalized research
practice based on internationally shared methodological

The development towards growing convergence occurred not exclusively
in a linear way but was influenced by external history. Japan had
furthermore developed an indigenous school of philology (kokugaku)
long before the institutionalization of the modern sciences in
Japan. This gave Japanese linguists the opportunity to adhere to their
own tradition of language study. This adherence had its greatest
effects in the study of historical linguistics, morphology and
syntax. During the period between 1930 and 1945 a general direction
towards indigenous Japanese methods is perceivable on all levels of
description and in all linguistic sub-disciplines of that
time. Generally speaking, Western linguistics could only be firmly
rooted in Japan if it did not provoke conflicts with indigenous
traditions of language study. Incommensurability of linguistic
approaches seems to be rooted not only in theoretical aspects but, to
some extend, also in the cultural origins of the approaches
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