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[YRP Students' Essays] The Thing which is at the Basis of Our Hearts

This essay was generated from an assignment that grew out of a unit on the extinction of languages around the world. Students were asked the hypothetical question: what would happen if the Japanese government decided (for financial and other reasons) to make English the official language of Japan, and all education, mass media, and government services were only available in that language? Students were asked to write an argumentative essay for or against the policy. The results were quite moving.

The Thing which is at the Basis of Our Hearts

If you didn't speak Japanese anymore, you would be a robot. If we were to use only English from now on, we would lose many precious things that we should preserve for the future. To speak Japanese is very important for having an identity as a Japanese. Language shapes our human character. Japanese has many kinds of expressions to communicate our feelings to other people. In Japan, we have a special religion that dictates that everything in our world has a soul, so that people use things carefully and for a long time. Japanese people have a special sensitivity that expresses our beautiful nature and feelings. The language "Japanese" is a heritage for the future, and it fosters people's great personalities. Therefore, we should continue to use Japanese forever.

The first reason that we should use Japanese is that we will lose the variation of feeling that we have normally. We have many words and expressions that express our delicate feelings. For example Mottainai: it means that something is important to me and using it carelessly is wasteful. If we forget this word, we will lose the feeling of consideration for material objects. In addition, Japanese has a lot of imitative words to express how the foods taste, and the number of those words is the largest of any language in the whole world. Japanese foods are developed with the active use of those words. When those words disappear, our culture of food will decline. As human beings, we recognize something because we have a proper "name "for it. When we lose the name of something, we cannot recognize it. Furthermore, it could be connected to difficulties in understanding those feelings in the next generations. So, the next generation of Japanese will lose those special feeling and thoughts.

The second reason is that, we may lose the way of thinking and religion that Japan has. "Shinto" is the one of the faiths in Japan. The traditional Japanese belief is that everything that exist in our world has a soul, so that we must respect it and always feel thankful to it. For example, before we build a building, we have a purification ceremony to the god of the land. It shows that we think that the land also has the soul like us, and we should respect it and get permission from it before we work there. Additionally, Japanese has a lot of traditional ceremonies. For example, at the Omiyamairi, when the baby becomes one month old, we go to the local shrine to report that the baby was born in this town. We also offer prayers so that the baby grow up healthy and happy. If we use English, we will lose that particular religion and associated customs.

The third thing we will lose is the sensitivity of our feelings and the expression of the nature. In the Heian Period, a woman named Sei Shonagon wrote a commentary called Makura no Soshi, or The Pillow Book. It tells to the reader the many ways in which nature and the four seasons are marvelous. She could write it because Japanese has many kinds of words to express various aspects and qualities of nature. The writer Natsume Souseki translated "I love you" in Japanese as "the moon is beautiful." He said that Japanese can understand an expression of love with these words. If we use English, we will lose the wonderful literature written in Japanese. The true sense of using those words can only be fully appreciated by people who can speak and understand Japanese.

Consequently, we should not change our language to English. Japanese has many positive points. Japanese creates the sensitive character of Japanese people. If we use English, the culture of Japan will soon disappear. History develops because of the differences among various countries' cultures. When the differences between cultures are gone, politics and economics will decline. To use only English in Japan would give bad influence to the world. In conclusion, we should use the language of Japanese forever.

Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Miku Hatatani, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.

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