April 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm #713
Astraea 16th, 3333
On starting a new group and forum on Japanese it seems a good time to discuss the question “why Japanese?”
The Introductory Chelouranyan article on Filianism puts it quite succinctly:
Outside people may see the use of Japanese as a completely unrelated eccentricity of ours but it is in fact a natural extension of our creation of a harmony-culture. We are not attempting to “become Japanese” or imitate Japanese culture, but to find Tellurian media for the expression and nurturing of our own culture.
Japanese has become de facto the second language of Chelouranya, and since some people might consider that to be going a bit far, let us pose alongside the question “Why Japanese?” the parallel question: “Why English?”
Chelouranyans in Telluria have been largely deployed as English-speakers. Why? One obvious reason is that English is the lingua Franca of current Telluria. It is not just the first language of many people but the near-universal second language of non-native speakers. If you see a Russian talking to a Brazilian or a German to a Chinese person, it will almost invariably be in English because it will be the only language they both know.
The practical reasons for being deployed as English speakers are therefore fairly obvious. There may be certain other reasons too – English-speakers as the most post-modernized and culturally weakened language group in Telluria is possibly the one to which non-Tellurian souls are most likely to gravitate because their identity is not Tellurian and current English-speaking culture is very lacking in definite cultural identity as compared to speakers of other Tellurian languages.
This latter factor is, however, obviously a two-edged sword. English speaking culture is more deracinated than any other Tellurian culture which is in a sense a kind of advantage in that we do not want to be rooted in Telluria, but also an obvious disadvantage in that we have a very deracinaed cultural atmosphere to overcome within our own souls.
Even if this latter problem did not exist, there is nothing inherently Anglo-Saxon about Chelouranya. English deployment is a tactical, not an existential, factor.
And even if English language and culture were not so very deracinated (that is, if we could discount the effects of the Eclipse, which has been a largely Anglophone-led phenomenon), English would still be the most “materialized” language in Telluria – the one that has devoted itself most exclusively to material phenomena over the past few centuries, and linguistically one of the furthest, if not the furthest, from the Primordial Language (there are linguistic reasons for saying this which I won’t enter into right now as they would take us too far from the immediate point).
It is also (and this is deeply bound up with the other factors – as they are with each other) the least harmony-oriented and most opposition-biased and hyper-individualistic language in Telluria.For all these reasons, while English continues and will continue to serve us as as a medium for communication and teaching, it has increasingly seemed important to have a language that is closer to the tone of our souls. Sadly we cannot import our true Mother Tongue, and as a Language of Harmony within the Tellurian context, we have been guided toward Japanese.
Language is not a mere means of communication painfully evolved from animal grunts. As all academic linguists know (though they are obviously at a loss to explain it), language has been declining, not increasing, in sophistication and complexity for the whole known history of human language.
And language is not just a means to practical ends. It is the medium through which we express our souls. It is said that speaking a new language changes one’s soul. And that is really what Japanese is about for us. It is, before all else, a spiritual journey.
Rosamunda Elefarya said:
Hear, hear! As I said to my sensei the other day – I once spent four years studying French and was endlessly frustrated because I could never say anything I really wanted to say. Even as the rawest beginner of a Japanese student, I find I can already begin to say things that are in my heart and difficult to express in English.
Lucetta Jane Spurling said:
How serendipitous: I also had the, “Why Japanese? Well, why English?” thought earlier today. Thank you for volunteering your insight.It’s true that one can utilize great nuance in even elementary Japanese with a deep understanding of the basic kimari monku (set phrases). I had a similar experience in my vain pursuit of French. Perhaps other languages express colorful nuance in other topics—for example, I understand that Russian is a great conveyor of poetic despair—but Japanese is nuanced in the spheres that interest us, particularly: tradition, hierarchy, harmonious discourse, politesse, and the appreciation of nature.
Yuriko Rill said:
I don’t have much else to add to this, except to say how wonderful this new group is, and I am so excited that there has been so much activity already!I have been studying for only a short time; however, I have already noticed how deeply the study has changed my soul! I am very excited about this new Group.
I can understand why Japanese has become almost like a second language for Chelouranyans because of the metaphysical meanings behind the kanji and the language itself parallels more with Chelouranyan culture, but why Japanese as opposed to say, Chinese?
This is an interesting question. I would say there are a number of reasons why Japanese turns out to be our second language. Though I would have to say that the language rather chose us than the other way around. We tend to go where we are led!
However, here are some of the reasons why Japanese seems to be the language that was given to us:
1. Japanese language and root-culture is in many respects surprisingly close to Novaryan culture (and Novarya is, of course our Protector Nation). For example, long ago when some of us were being taught about Japanese concepts like “katte ni suru” (among many others), Novaryans among us found we could predict what the ideas would be and even explicate them in greater depth than West Tellurians with long experience of Japan because they were so close to our home culture.Of course the fundamentals of tradition are universal, but there seems to be a typological similarity between Japanese culture and Novaryan culture. Naturally Japanese culture is a Tellurian Iron Age culture (even in the oldest forms we know) so we are talking about its “stream” or typological form rather than an exact similarity. Interestingly, North Arkadyans and Jenilovians, while not quite so close also see striking similarities.
2. One of our Sentai said just yesterday that there are really very few current productions of any kind that we can actually watch (this was particularly apropos of a discussion of the problems with the recent Disney fairytale movies and their slide into post-modernism) and just about all that there is comes from Japan. This is not to say that there is not a huge amount of bad material coming from Japan, because there certainly is. But in terms of the games and kinemas we actually like there really isn’t much that isn’t Japanese.
2b. We and friends have talked quite a lot about things like the Precure grand-series and why some of the series within it (four in particular) are really rather astonishing for their metaphysical depth and rightness. When one watches them with English subtitles it is really amazing how much is lost, and how coarsened they become in so many ways. The translations are not necessarily coarse in themselves (by modern-English standards), but in order to speak “natural” modern English at all many things have to be roughened considerably. More importantly, some of the depth is lost. Watching them in English can still be helpful, but Chelouranyans who have done both say there is a huge difference when watching them in Japanese.
3. I am not sure how much of a factor this is in practical terms, but historically Herthelani have been very interested in Takarazuka which is probably the only large-scale theatrical phenomenon that reflects (up to a point) intemorphic life. I have to say that I have never been deeply immersed in Takarazuka and I actually prefer to see little bits of the spectacle because when one sees whole shows and understands the stories their Tellurian-ness is rather disappointing. It isn’t horrid Tellurian-ness by any means, but when one has seen what looked like a half-glance at the Motherland, realizing that these are really just Schizomorphic stories, with all that that implies about internecine conflict etc. is a little depressing. Others may feel differently. But in any case the “Takarazuka factor” was never that huge and is even less important now than it used to be. But it does possibly indicate again the crossing of werde between ourselves and Japan.
3b. There are a few other near-intemorphic experiences (or at least as near as one can get in Tellurian media). Examples are Morning Musume’s Cinderella and Maria-sama ga MIteru. Far Herthelani were attracted to these because they are little things that feel somewhat like home to us. They were not chosen because they are Japanese, but because they are what is there. But they are all Japanese as it happens.
I don’t suppose this list is exhaustive by any means, but these are some of the reasons why Chelouranya has gravitated toward Japanese. I would emphasize again though that it is more a matter of being led as a group in this direction than of making a strategic decision based on these factors.
Yuriko Rill said:
To add to what Sushuri-chei just said about Precure, I have been using Anime, Precure, in particular, as an aid to my studies. I have been systematically watching each episode 4 times. The first time I watch with Japanese subtitles, and stop and look up words when I need to. Heee…I am still very much a beginner, so I have to look up a LOT of words, and it is rather slow. When I am finished, I watch again at full speed, but still with Japanese subtitles. I then watch with English subtitles. After I do all of this, I watch it raw, with no subtitles at all.
It turns out that my least favorite viewing is the one with English subtitles. I mostly do this one to check my understanding and to catch the many things that I miss with the Japanese. Even though this is the easiest viewing in terms of understanding, it is the hardest because it is SO much rougher in English even with nice translations (some are better than others).
During the day, I have been trying to immerse myself in Japanese as much as possible, having tapes and the like playing as I am doing my housework. I have noticed that I feel softer and gentler the days I can immerse myself in Japanese.
Rosamunda Elefarya said:
I would add that what makes Maria-sama ga Miteru, Takarazuka, and even occasional episodes of Precure feel truly intemorphic is not just “girls in mayamity” (which is always lovely when done innocently of course) but their spot-on depictions of the character of blondes and brunettes. I’ve tried Korean manhwa and Chinese man hua and both are better than anything coming out of the West right now, but neither has that special magic of Japanese manga and anime.
Yuriko Rill said:
I have been thinking what Sushuri-chei said about being “led” towards Japanese. I think that this is actually the most important reason, even though there are lots of rational reasons, as Sushuri-chei and Elefarya-chei have listed.
It has been clear since the beginning of the Japanese journey, which really started about 2 years ago, that there was a huge Vikhail (battle between Light and Dark) surrounding Japanese studies. The side of Light has been leading (sometimes pushing) us in this direction, and the side of Dark has opposed us at every turn. The most recent attack was last week when the FoD’s turned the new Japanese Forum into a BIIIGGGG SCCAARRRYYYYY Akanbe (“the monster from Smile Precure”) for me. I look back now, and I have no idea why I got so scared, but it had all the markings of an FoD attack. This has been part of a pattern for two years, for many of us on this Japanese journey. I would need pages and pages were I to tell of every incident.
To be honest, I do not think that we really know all of the whys and wherefores of what is happening, but to me, if the Light wants something and the Dark opposes it….well…that is all the more reason to trust and to press on!
So… here we are. Ganbatte kudasai, minasan! Zettai ni akiramenai!
Haya Vikhë! Haya Mati! Hail to the Empress!
Petite Sorcière said:
On a very everyday kind of note, when one is looking at things in Elektra and one finds something that is not in English and thinks “I wish I could read that”, how often is it not Japanese? In my case the answer is “almost never”. This isn’t because I have some ideological preference for Japanese but because just about everything I like is originally in Japanese – games, anime, manga etc.That has been the case as long as I can remember. That in itself obviously isn’t a case for Japanese being a second language for Chelouranya, as it is just the personal taste of one girl, but as honored Sushuri-chei said, “there are really very few current productions of any kind that we can actually watch and just about all that there is comes from Japan.”
This has been the case for a very long time. Years ago I found that the only form of “mass-media” that wasn’t pre-Eclipse that was actually sufficiently non-contaminated to read/watch was Japanese-made lightgames. Since then I have been introduced to more things by dear sisters here and by my own seeking. But how much is recommendable that is not Japanese?
Some people may object that there is plenty of contaminated material in/from Japan. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that for a moment. That isn’t the point at all. The question is, what other sources of non-contaminated (and sufficiently attractive to intemorphs) material are there?
Again, not a reason for using the language extensively, but another indication of the aethyric-kinship thing (to use horribly vague terminology because I don’t know any better!)
Myriam Hildotter said:
It is interesting, isn’t it?
Japan media seems to be having a large impact on the Image Sphere of Telluria now, more so than any other non-English speaking culture, I think. I am not sure what more to say about it, and of course, overall, there is a mixture of good and bad. I would imagine that the bad outweighs the good by a fair amount, given the amount of Anime, Manga, Lightgames, and other Japanese media available, and the very small amount that we can actually recommend.
Yet, there does not seem to be ANY current media available to us from anywhere else that we can recommend AT ALL. So in terms of the larger Image Sphere of Telluria, Japan seems to be producing a small amount of Light in a vast sea of Darkness. It would seem that this makes the small amount of Light seem much more bright, in some way, I think.
I am not sure what I am saying here…more pondering and musing. I do find it quite interesting, though.
See also: Japanese as a Sacred Language
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