The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900)

A Cultural and Sociolinguistic Study of Dutch as a Contact Language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan

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In The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900) Christopher Joby offers the first book-length account of the knowledge and use of the Dutch language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. For most of this period, the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to trade with Japan. Using the analytical tool of language process, this book explores the nature and consequences of contact between Dutch and Japanese and other language varieties. The processes analysed include language learning, contact and competition, code switching, translation, lexical, syntactic and graphic interference, and language shift. The picture that emerges is that the multifarious uses of Dutch, especially the translation of Dutch books, would have a profound effect on the language, society, culture and intellectual life of Japan.

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Christopher Joby, Ph.D. (2006), Durham University, is Visiting Professor in Dutch at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. He has published monographs and many articles on the history of the Dutch language including The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702) (Brill, 2015).
"It is this story of Rangaku (Dutch Studies in Japan) which is the central topic of Christopher Joby’s masterful new book, published in January by Brill [...].
The many interesting results Joby has produced in the pursuit of this new, multidisciplinary approach to the case of Rangaku, are underpinned by a formidable scholarly apparatus. [...].
Great praise, then, for Joby’s wide ranging, solid and impressive new study – for its clarity of structure, its thoroughness of substance and apparatus, its innovative combination of disciplines and the depth of analysis this has made possible; for his exemplary grip on this complex subject matter, with its multitude of data, detail, sources, languages and speakers; for the force of his conclusions on the impact this contact with the Dutch has had on Japanese culture and society; and last but not least, for the quality of his many well-chosen and beautifully reproduced illustrations. Page after page, one encounters the same delightful scholarship, with which Joby sets a standard that will last long. His book is a major contribution to Japanese and Asian Studies, and will strongly appeal also to scholars in many other fields, such as Dutch studies, book history, translation studies, European expansion, colonial lexicography, multilingualism, and above all contact linguistics." ~ Reiner Salverda, University College London, UK, in Dutch Crossing (June 2021), DOI: 10.1080/03096564.2021.1937780.
“[…]Joby’s comprehensive approach – combined with an eye for the telling detail – makes The Dutch Language in Japan an extremely worthwhile read. There is much to savor and learn here for Dutch historians.” ~ Martine van Ittersum, University of Dundee in BMGN — Low Countries Historical Review, (Vol. 136, 2021), review 41.
All those interested in the history of the Dutch language, the linguistic, intellectual and cultural history of Japan and anyone concerned with language contact theory.