Mar 31, 2012

The World in English 我的英语

I've just finish reading Levy Hideo's essay "The World in Japanese 我的日本語."

Levy Hideo is a non-Japanese author who writes novels in Japanese.

He used to be a professor of Japanese literature in Princeton and Stanford University, and he was trying to translate "Manyou-shu (万葉集)", which was a collection of Japanese old poems written in the eighth century, into English.

At that time the scholars of Japan, Japanologists, mainly translated Japanese literature into English or wrote critics about Japan in English in order to introduce Japan to English readers. Edward Seidensticker and Donald Keene are two of the most typical "Japanologists".

But Levy Hideo wanted to write in Japanese. He retired from his job in the U.S. and moved to Japan. He became a pioneer of non-Japanese authors writing novels in Japanese. I wrote the entry "Multilingualism and Literature" about the foreign authors in Japanese literature.

I'm a native Japanese speaker and I've learned English in school. It takes much more time to write in English than in Japanese and I make a lot of mistakes when I write and speak in English.

But I've been keeping this weblog in English for sixteen months. I'm always thinking about the reason why I'm writing in English.

I myself am not sure about the reason, but I guess that there are two reasons.

I'm interested in Western cultures and societies and I've written about them on my Japanese weblog. But I want Western readers to read them more, because I write about them from the non-Western standpoint, for example the entry "The Myth of "Democracy": "the State of Nature" and "the Social Contract"".

On the other hand, I also write about Japan in English. When I write in English, I can think about Japan critically and rationally, for example the entry "Is Japan Really a Democratic Country?"

Now Levy Hideo write novels about modern China in Japanese and he's got his own unique standpoint. I've also got my own perspective to write in English.


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