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The Japanese Linguistic Landscape

The Japanese Linguistic Landscape

Reflections on Quintessential Words

Nakanishi Susumu
Photographs by Nakanishi Kimiko
Translated by Ryan Shaldjian Morrison

Future Titles / Culture


Published by JPIC | ISBN 978-4-86658-068-5 (Hardcover) | *** pages | 210mm (h) x 148mm (w) | July 2019

About the Book

Languages change over time. No matter how hard we try to control and regulate them, they exist in a state of endless metamorphosis. This does not mean, though, that we should simply stand by and watch as language devolves into nonsense.

What should we do, then? Recognizing the inevitability of change is a given, of course. But we must also navigate the delicate line between the pull of popular trends and the urge to cling blindly to the ways of the past. The ideal balance, Professor Nakanishi argues in this book, lies in being “one step behind the times,” which is the best approach for wielding all the charms of a language.

Beautiful words have an ageless quality, regardless of when they first appeared in a language. The Japanese language testifies to that truth. This book introduces a balanced mix of new and old words that reflect the singular beauty of the Japanese language.

The beautiful words of the Japanese language are not—as some people say—simply old, antiquated terms. Discerning beauty in a language requires more than having an antiquarian’s ear; it requires certain sensibilities and sensitivities. Only by submerging ourselves in a language can we perceive its splendid subtleties, appreciate its true beauty.

This book offers readers an opportunity to delve into to those nuances of Japanese, explore the language’s history, and savor its unique beauty.

About the Author


Dr. Nakanishi Susumu (b. 1979, Tokyo) is a leading scholar of classical Japanese literature. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. His previous academic positions include Associate Professor at the University of Tsukuba International Japanese Culture Center, Visiting Professor at Princeton University, President of Osaka Women’s University, and President of Kyoto City University of Arts. He currently serves as Director of the Koshinokuni Museum of Literature (Toyama Prefecture) and President of the Japan Scholarship Foundation. He has served as an affiliate member of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), President of the Japan Comparative Literature Association (JCLA), and President of the East Asian Comparative Culture International Congress. He is the recipient of the Japan Academy Prize, the Yomiuri Prize for Literature, the Osaragi Jirō Prize, the Watsuji Tetsurō Culture Prize, and the Kikuchi Kan Prize. In 2013, he was awarded Order of Culture, Japan’s top prize for cultural contribution.





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