An Emerging Japanese English
Troy Miller (MA ELT)
Nagoya University of Foreign Studies,
School of Contemporary International Studies
Japan's limited range in using English, mostly limited to
business, has an adverse effect on the degree of depth. However
an emerging Japanese English is possible as changes in culture
and education happen.
Yano writes about the implications in the future and suggests
the inner circle line someday will disappear as ESL speakers
will stop looking to the inner circle countries as a source
of correct English (Yano, 2001).
Another area Kachru examines is the issue of defining a
native speaker. Kachru describes looking at one of the inner
circle's countries English, particularly British English as
a standard of good use, "attitudinal schizophrenia"
(Kachru, B. and C. Nelson, p. 82).
As is often the case in Japan, students often complain to
the school that they want to learn English from a "native"
speaker. The reality of who is native speaker and how those
students will be using English in the future should be of
concern especially with the future of business for Japan in
South East Asia.
Kachru's framework for world Englishes also talks
about the increasing contributions of bilingual speakers to
English literature. These writers are using English to talk
about their own cultures and using their own cultural contexts
in their writings. This is further evidence of the emergence
of world Englishes.
Another part of Kachru's world Englishes paradigm is the
power structure that goes with becoming an English speaker
and the choices a speaker makes reflects on this culture.
For example a Japanese businessman when speaking in English
associates himself with the English speaking culture.
While this may be to his benefit in an international setting,
his compatriot who cannot speak English may appear to be less
important in the same situation. The non-English speaking
businessman, who may be of a higher rank in the Japanese business
world, may be looked upon unfavorably because his English
skills are lacking.
Emerging Japanese English?
Yano claims that English will remain a foreign language
in Japan and will only be used for communications on an international
level (Yano Y. p.127). In my opinion this is a narrow view
as I teach many students who have studied overseas and can
use English naturally in conversations.
While Yano may argue that these conversations are not common
except with foreigners, the reality is that more and more
foreigners are arriving in Japan each year as the Japanese
work force continues to shrink and its working population
rapidly ages and Japan may well be a much more international
country in the future if immigration continues to increase.
Further proof of emerging Englishes can be found in Singapore.
This English has gained acceptance and while in the past people
may have tried to correct it, it appears to have gained recognition
as legitimate English (Gupta, 1999).