Monday, March 12, 2007

Onechan's Japaneses

One of the moments I always enjoy teaching from Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera is the chapter in which she lists the many varieties of Spanish she speaks and describes the code-switching she does in her everyday life. (I'm following the literary critic's convention of speaking of a work in the present tense, even though it is past and its author has passed.) So it made me happy to hear from She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Mentioned-On-Blogs that even though onechan is only 3, she already combines four varieties of Japanese in her everyday speech: her mama's Chiba dialect, her cousins' Okinawa dialect, her yochien playmates' Hakata dialect, and her dad's bad Japanese. Good examples of the third include saying "doshtato" for "doshtano" (what's going on?) and "cho kawaii" for "sugoi kawaii" (super cute). The Okinawan dialect inserts a lot of "sa"s, "ota"s, and "shitota"s at or near the end of common words and phrases. For those, whether outside or inside Japan, who buy into the myth of national homogeneity, the linguistic diversity even within one well-travelled sansai onnanoko is the beginning of a rebuttal. And John Lie's Multiethnic Japan makes the case against ethnic homogeneity.

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