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  • Author or Editor: Mareshi Saito x
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This chapter discusses the interplay between writing, language, and ceremonial recitation in the Sinographic Sphere. It traces the development of writing in ancient China, describing the writing system used for diverse regional languages and focusing on the importance of ceremonial recitation carried out using so-called yayan 雅言, defined here as “cultivated speech.” Different from everyday speech, it was a higher-level spoken rendition of the language suitable for ceremony and performance. Scholar-officials (shi ), who were the experts in this kind of eloquence, made use of it during ceremonial occasions, such as communication between diplomats. Characterized by special rhythm and intonation, it was the spoken version of Sinitic used for reciting poetry, classical texts, and even documents in public ceremonial settings. Not limited to ancient China, such ceremonial recitation registers also came into existence at the courts of various other states that constituted the Sinographic Sphere. For example, the recitation of Sinographic texts in Japanese using kundoku glossing practices was the Japanese equivalent of this same “cultivated speech.” The language of kundoku, which differed from everyday spoken Japanese, was used for reciting texts aloud in ceremonial contexts. Japanese kundoku was valued and transmitted for centuries precisely because it functioned as a prestigious “cosmopolitan” language in Japan.

In: Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in the World of Wen 文
The Literary Sinitic Context and the Birth of Modern Japanese Language and Literature
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In Kanbunmyaku: The Literary Sinitic Context and the Birth of Modern Japanese Language and Literature, Saito Mareshi demonstrates the centrality of Literary Sinitic poetry and prose in the creation of modern literary Japanese. Saito’s new understanding of the role of “kanbunmyaku” in the formation of Japanese literary modernity challenges dominant narratives tied to translations from modern Western literatures and problematizes the antagonism between Literary Sinitic and Japanese in the modern academy. Saito shows how kundoku (vernacular reading) and its rhythms were central to the rise of new inscriptional styles, charts the changing relationship of modern poets and novelists to kanbunmyaku, and concludes that the chronotope of modern Japan was based in a language world supported by the Literary Sinitic Context.
In: Kanbunmyaku
In: Kanbunmyaku
In: Kanbunmyaku
In: Kanbunmyaku
In: Kanbunmyaku
In: Kanbunmyaku
In: Kanbunmyaku