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An Unofficial Guide for Japanese Characters 91

2011年 12月 18日 日曜日 筆者: SADANOBU Toshiyuki

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A methodology for observing characters (Part 2)

There are abundant examples of phenomena that probably cannot be explained without using the idea of “character,” in very recent video and literature. Previously, we looked at the examples of Sho Sakurai from the band Arashi, and Naoko Asada’s series Osakana Saijiki, but an old guy like myself can’t use such examples often in this series.

No way. It’s not that I dislike these examples. I am a member of the Arashi Fan Club, after all. Just kidding. Naoko Asada’s Osakana Saijiki is another story though. Did you know that Episode 68 is missing? And the Asada Suisan fish shop is on the first floor of a certain building… It’s true. (Am I an Osakana Saijiki geek?)

Why don’t I use recent media in this series? If I did use it often, people would mistakenly assume that I was writing a “theory of modern youth.” “I see. In his current group, young Sakurai’s ‘self’ is not fully formed. Today’s youth, like Asada, use jumbled language and thus cannot write consistently as ‘themselves’.” No matter how much I said, “No! I am not just talking about today’s youth. This sort of thing has been going on forever,” nobody would listen to me. I just know it.

However, I don’t really want to use examples like this one either:

I despise it when people who are not so very old, or men, purposefully put on rustic airs. The same words heard by different ears. The words of a priest. The words of a man. The words of a woman. In the language of the vulgar, words are always overabundant.

[See Shonagon(1) Makura no Soshi Revised by Ikeda Kikan, Iwanami Shoten, Publishers]

“It’s irritating when people who aren’t even that old or men use rural mannerisms.” “The same words leave a different impression depending on whether they’re spoken by a priest, a man, or a woman. People of humble station are always the most long-winded.” These examples are related to character, but they’re too old. If I used them, people would say: “I see. In the Heian period…” or “I see, I see. See Shonagon…” They would quite possibly interpret my writing in the light of theories about the era, or the author. Besides, most of my audience would be repelled by such ancient examples. I just know it.

Therefore, in this series, in order to call to mind the “deep connections that character has with our Japanese-speaking society,” I rely on Tanizaki’s novels, or Dazai’s scripts. In other words I mainly use authoritative famous quotes from “modern” but somewhat old writers. Do you understand? My own personal taste actually veers more towards Arashi. Am I being long-winded?

* * *

(1) 966-1017 Heian era author, best known in the West for her Makura Soshi (Pillow Book).

author

Bonnou no Bunpou: Taikien o Kataritagaru Hitobito no Yokubou ga Nihongo no Bunpou System o Yusaburu Hanashi (The Grammar of Earthly Desires: How Our Desire to Narrate Daily Experiences Shape Japanese Grammatical Systems)Toshiyuki SADANOBU.
Professor of Linguistics at Kobe University. Ph.D.: Kyoto University, 1998. Research Interests: Personal Experience in Grammar and Communication.
Selected Publications:
(1) Bonnou no Bunpou: Taikien o Kataritagaru Hitobito no Yokubou ga Nihongo no Bunpou System o Yusaburu Hanashi (The Grammar of Earthly Desires: How Our Desire to Narrate Daily Experiences Shape Japanese Grammatical Systems). Tokyo: Chikumashobo, 2008;
(2) Sasayaku Koibito, Rikimu Repootaa: Kuchi no naka no Bunka (Whispering Lovers and Creaking Reporters: Culture in Our Mouth). Tokyo: Iwanami, 2005;
(3) Ninchi Gengoron (A Cognitive Study of Language). Tokyo: Taishukan, 2000.
URL:http://ccs.cla.kobe-u.ac.jp/Gengo/staff/sadanobu/index.htm

2011年 12月 18日