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Language and Culture Studies Series, 42 p15-33 2000

This paper considers how multilingualism is approached in both Japan and the United States by considering the position and roles of the government, schools, and public. There exists the perception in countries where monolingualism is considered the norm that bilingualism, and certainly multilingualism, are problematic. Multilingualism in a monolingual country is frequently seen as a threat to the established monolingual and monocultural way of life. While Japan and the United States are typical of monolinguistically-dominated societies, and some similar attitudes prevail in both countries, their approaches to dealing with multilingualism are vastly different. In Japan and the United States, there are prevailing attitudes that for speakers of the dominant languages--Japanese and English respectively--there is no need to learn another language, and that all others living in the countries should learn to speak the primary language. Yet both countries are far more linguistically diverse than the typical lay person or government official in either country realizes. This is a more recent phenomenon in Japan, but in America, significant multilingualism goes back to the founding of the first colonies. Multilingualism has been unavoidable in a country comprised of immigrants from across the world. It is concluded that in both countries multilingualism is not a threat, but that narrow-mindedness and the failure to look beyond ones own borders are far greater problems. (Contains 17 references.) (KFT)

Descriptors: Acculturation, Chinese, English (Second Language), Foreign Countries, Japanese, Korean, Language Maintenance, Language Minorities, Language Patterns, Language Planning, Language Role, Multilingualism, Okinawan, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Public Policy, Regional Dialects, Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning, Sociocultural Patterns, Spanish, Tagalog, Uncommonly Taught Languages

Autor: Clankie, Shawn M.


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