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“'The Unilingual Republic of the World'. Reactions to the 1872 Proposal to Make English the National Language of Japan" [“'La república monolingüe del mundo': respuestas a la propuesta de 1872 de transformar el inglés en la lengua nacional de Japón"

Author(s): John E. Joseph

Journal: Revista Argentina de Historiografía Lingüística
ISSN 1852-1495

Volume: III;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 53;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: English language | Japanese language | Universal language | National language.

In 1872, Mori Arinori, the newly-appointed Japanese ambassador to Washington, wrote to the linguist William Dwight Whitney concerning Mori’s proposal to make English the national language of Japan, replacing Japanese. Whitney’s response welcomed the idea of teaching English throughout Japan but explained why, from a linguist’s point of view, Japanese neither could nor should be replaced. He was also unreceptive to Mori’s suggestions for regularising English, levelling out strong past-tense verb forms and etymological spellings. Mori nevertheless had his proposal published in American newspapers, where it received widespread attention, including a mention in President Grant’s Second Inaugural Address.
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