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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Study of the Dutch Language in Japan During the Period of National Isolation Add Dissertation
Author: Henk de Groot Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Canterbury, Asian Languages
Completed in: In Progress
Linguistic Subfield(s): History of Linguistics;
Director(s): Christopher Seeley

Abstract: During Japan's sakoku era, or period of national isolation between the years 1641 and 1868, the only contact the Japanese had with the Western world was through a small group of Dutch traders who lived on a small island near Nagasaki. Via this tenuous connection, Western ideas, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy and technology slowly gained a foothold in Japanese thinking.

Although the phenomenon of Rangaku, or Dutch studies, is a topic of interest to many scholars and is well documented, the study of the Dutch language itself in Japan during this time has long been a neglected subject. As a native speaker of Dutch and a student of Japanese, I believe I can make a contribution to the research in this field.

Early in 1998 I completed a M aster’s thesis which deals largely with the work of Shizuki Tadao, an eighteenth century Nagasaki interpreter who for the first time attempted to reconcile Western linguistic ideas with those current in Japan at the time. Up until that time, students of D utch had struggled with simple glossaries and model translations provided by the Nagasaki interpreters. Shizuki’s work was pivotal, in that his work formed the basis of all textbooks on the Dutch language subsequently produced in Japan until the end of th e sakoku era.

In the doctoral work on which I have embarked this year, for my thesis, I propose to extend the research and translation work to include works by people who came both before and after Shizuki Tadao. Investigations will be made of the noteb ooks and glossaries produced by the Nagasaki interpreters, and the extent to which they were available to the Edo Rangakusha will be investigated. The thesis will also contain the results of investigations into which Dutch texts were available to students of the Dutch language during Japan’s period of national isolation, what materials were used for the teaching of Dutch in the latter years of the sakoku era, and how these were used. Some of this research will have to be carried out in Japan and in the Netherlands.