Tag Archives: japanese culture

TED Gallery: Endangered or Forgotten Languages

Language is a massive part of culture. There’s absolutely no denying it. Anyone who speaks multiple languages that are from cultures that do not generally intertwine (i.e., not places like Pakistan, where they may grow up to speak three or more languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, and English) understand well. But the internet, along with a rapidly increasing desire to communicate with people across the world, is homogenizing us in ways that some say are detrimental to smaller cultures. I decided to make compilations of TED talks among various topics, and I’m going to start with linguicide, the death of a language. We’ll start with one person who is trying to decipher the script of the Indus people; another who has studied many cultures across the globe; and another who believes that we can unite the world under one language, without doing so at the expense of other languages.

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Is Japan Losing its Culture? – Part 2: Only One Rising Sun

If Japan is losing its culture, then who isn’t? Practically every country in the world is being influenced by America alone, though essentially everyone is influencing everyone else in some way. And now that we have such widespread internet connectivity (the growth of which is never going to slow), we are gradually becoming more culturally homogenized. Japan is one country that outsiders feel passionately about, probably because they like the idea of experiencing something “exotic.” It is therefore disappointing to some who travel to the big cities of Japan (“they’re all the same around the world – dirty, loud, and expensive”), until they go to the more traditional small-towns or old temples, and begin to feel like they’re in the “real Japan.” However, many of the assumptions held by foreigners about Japanese culture may best be reconsidered.

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Is Japan Losing its Culture? – Part 1: A History of Cultural Adoption

I want to talk about the problem I usually find when non-Japanese people talk about Japanese culture, which is that they generalize too much. They make sweeping statements that are inherently too loaded to be anything but false. This is usually because they approach Japan through the lens of their own culture – the etic approach, in anthropological terms. Japan can only possibly be understood in the greater Japanese context – one that considers its history, and its interaction with other nations. Making a statement like “Japan is very ________, and here’s my anecdote…” is an approach doomed to failure. For example, I often hear complaints that Japan is becoming highly Westernized, or more specifically, Americanized. A big concern is that they’re losing their culture. …But is it true? Is Japan losing its culture?

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