Globalisation, language planning and language rights: the recent script policy measures adopted by Japan and the People's Republic of China

Dilhara Premaratne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In 2009, two significant script policy measures were adopted by Japan and the People's Republic of China (China hereafter), both as a response to national language needs triggered by globalisation. However, the measures chosen by the two countries were very different, Japan choosing to increase and China choosing to standardise the Chinese characters in the respective official character lists. The Japanese script reform measure was an integral part of Japan's recent national efforts to beautify the Japanese language and preserve the Japanese culture. The new script policy was implemented specifically to counteract the impact of digital media on the Japanese script which came about due to the globalisation process. The latest Japanese script reform thus drastically increased the number of official kanji (Chinese characters in the official character list), which had been substantially reduced in 1946 to facilitate mass literacy. In contrast, the Chinese script reform measure was an attempt to standardise and streamline its script to make it function effectively in digitalised environments. It was the centrepiece of China's current efforts to fast-track into the post-industrial knowledge economy and information society of the globalised, industrialised nations. The latest Chinese script reform thus rigorously weeded out large numbers of characters that had hitherto made its script untenable for computer use. Although the two language policy measures chosen to respond to the forces of globalisation are fundamentally different, both Japan and China are similar in the indifference shown towards language rights and social justice issues caused by their respective policies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)425-440
    JournalCurrent Issues in Language Planning
    Volume16
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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