Hokkaido Dialect as the Tongue of Revolution – A Literary-sociolinguistic Analysis of Kobayashi Takiji’s The Crab Cannery Ship

Date
2022
Authors
Iseri, Joseph
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Abstract
There is much to be said from both literary and linguistic scholars alike about the use of non-standard language. While each have different primary motivations for investigating linguistic variation, there is much each field may borrow from the other in unraveling their differing questions. This paper attempts such a methodological feat by utilizing textual analytical practices from both sociolinguistic and literary fields and applying them to the literary spectrum of material. Analyzing non-standard dialect use in Takiji Kobayashi’s 1929 piece The Crab Cannery Ship, this paper addresses the following questions: (1) how do characters’ use of dialect construct their class identity, and (2) how are those identities key for achieving the goals of proletarian literature. Quantitative and qualitative analysis reveals that Hokkaido Dialect (HD) is positioned as a marginalized style against hegemonic use of Standard Japanese (SJ) and that, while HD may be the tongue of revolutionaries, SJ remains the ideologically powerful variety in disseminating the proletarian message. The paper concludes with the advantages and challenges of a literary-sociolinguistic framework for analysis as well as a call for further research from this perspective.
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literary-sociolinguistic analysis, dialect, indexicality, ideology, proletarian literature
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