This study is an attempt to uncover the relations between colonialism and language of the colonizer in British India and Japanese occupied Taiwan and Korea, ie. English and Japanese language. We tried to pursue the patterns and phenomenons of the colo ...
This study is an attempt to uncover the relations between colonialism and language of the colonizer in British India and Japanese occupied Taiwan and Korea, ie. English and Japanese language. We tried to pursue the patterns and phenomenons of the colonial controls and practises by means of the language policy followed in the each colony to acquire hegemonic influences and indigenous elites’ subjectivity.
Two colonial countries were not identical, since Japan, a relatively late-comer, could enjoy a better position to emulate Britain, one of the oldest and the largest colonial power. Taiwan became an experimental laboratory to Japan for testing colonial language policy that subsequently implemented into Korea. Japan considered Taiwan and Korea as a part of their territory, relying on geographical proximity and racial affinity, unlike the British, being several thousand miles away from home with difference in creed, race and culture from the colonized. The colonial language teaching was an extensions of the overall colonial patterns and structures.
The British spent their efforts in pursuit of a logical language policy to win over Indian elites who could be an intermediary between them and the vast masses, but received boomerang effects. In contrast, Japan intended to teach Japanese language by force to inculcate the masses of the colonies into loyal Japanese subjects. Even though colonial language policies were divergent, the purpose was to aimed in unison to en-culture the ruled into the culture of the ruler to serve to fortify colonial control under the veil of civilization and enlightenment.
Change could not simply imposed from above. English learning bred among Indian elites not only servility and complicity but also resistance and national feelings, turning the language of the colonialism into the language of nationalism. In Taiwan, where multiracial and multilingual identities were coexisted, Japanese language helped Taiwan people to nurture a sense of community spirit. While in Korea where the nature of society was rigid and monolithic, Japanese language did not meet a flood of enthusiasm but fragmented responses .
English language spoken by a few in India survived after the demise of British rule and became stronger nowadays than ever. In contrast, Korea and Taiwan after the colonial rule rejected Japanese language in toto. While Japanese in Korea substituted immediately for Korean language, Taiwan where new political force were constructed witnessed serious language related social problems, causing nostalgic attitude toward colonial language.
Were the colonial powers after all achieved its intended object The British did not come off in the short run but made a great coup in the long view as Indian utilized and indigenized the language as an 'Indian English'. The destiny of Japanese language in Taiwan and Korea went somewhat different directions. The number of population who were conversant in Japanese language in 1943 reached 71% in Taiwan and 35% in Korea respectively, indicating the level of success of the Japanese language policy.
However one may explain the relative high percentage of Taiwan in terms of its multiracial and multilingual culture, unlike Korea with its strong homogeneity. The survival of English in India also reveals the flexible nature of societies with the co-existence of multiple cultures and languages. It can be argued, in conclusion, that the responses of the colonized towards colonial language teachings and policies were partly due to the differences in the nature of colonial rule, but also partly due to the nature of indigenous society and its historical experiences.