Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Improvements in the sociolinguistic status of dialects as observed through linguistic landscapes — utilization of google maps and google insights —

Fumio Inoue


The sociolinguistic status of Japanese dialects will be discussed on the basis of linguistic landscape in this paper. A steady increase in dialect shop names over the past fourteen years was concretely ascertained in a southern island on the basis of tour guide books. This increase in dialect shop names is observed also in other areas of Japan. The fieldworks are examples of “insect’s eye view” research. The geographical distribution of dialect shop names can be shown also on distribution maps of Google maps. These maps give us a “bird’s eye view”. It has been ascertained that Japanese dialect forms
are utilized both domestically and abroad. Many more examples are observable using Google street view as “fly’s eye view”, and Google insights as “witch’s eye view”.
The background of dialect landscape can be explained partly by the progress of language standardization, or decline of dialects. Dialects are now economically utilized because of their scarcity value. Three sociolinguistic types can be distinguished historically: ERADICATION, DESCRIPTION and UTILIZATION. Now Japanese dialects are in the state of UTILIZATION. Dialect landscape is a reflection of language standardization, and is regarded as a sensor of standardization. On the basis of the Linguistic
Atlas of Japan, three historical stages of standardization can be distinguished: first, language standardization from the former capital Kyoto, and secondly from the new capital Tokyo, and thirdly nationwide standardization among junior high school students. In the meantime, new dialect forms, which are changes in the opposite direction from standardization, are still emerging in various areas in Japan. These historical movements of standardization and new dialect formation can be concisely shown by the “umbrella model”. From pragmatic surveys of dialect landscape, it has been found that principles of economics work on dialect use. Thus, the econolinguistics of dialect will be a fruitful study field in the future.

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