2006-10-26

Immature Vocabulary - A lack of eduacation or social upbringing?

I was recently reading a book on Japanese socio-linguistics and I found it interesting that the reason a lot of the younger generation of Japanese lack a more mature vocabulary or should I say lack a more enriched vocabulary is because of the influence TV and comic books have on society. I am not saying that TV and comic books are no good for society but rather the way in which information is portrayed. They try to portray information in a way that is so simplistic and uses such simple vocabulary. Simple vocabulary is of course not always a bad thing it is just that it often gets overused and the consumers of the TV and comic books get habitually used to it and eventually never get a chance to enrich their vocabularies.
 
I just traveled across Canada to Nova Scotia to visit old friends for the first time in 18 years. It's been a good visit but it was also an interesting eye opener. I have lived outside Canada since finishing high school over 13 years ago and this last trip was really the first time I realized how true peoples vocabularies are so shallow. Not just Eastern Canada but Western Canada as well. Typically it is the people who live in the smaller rural communities who are the worst in this situation rather than principally the Japanese youth. I found it quite disgusting on how people speak using words like "fuck" for nearly every second word. This is precisely what the Japanese professor I was reading about was saying about Japanese youth. It seems to be a lack of an enriched vocabulary that  people use these words.
 
Thinking about this and I thought of these factors to compare both Japan and Canada. both countries call themselves highly developed industrialized nations boasting highly educated societies. In Japan the rate at which people finish high school and university is very high as compared to Canada the rate of high school completion is quite low especially in rural communities and even lower for university completion even in urban cities. In Japan there are TV game shows, animation, and other programmes which simplify real life situations even the news and of course comic books. In Canada I am not quite sure if Canadians have similar types of TV programming as I have not lived in Canada but I am sure that it is not to the degree of Japanese TV. I am not even aware of the abundance of comic books in Canada. However, I do know that youth do spend and increasing number of hours at the TV in both cultures, which is merely an aural introduction of language and does not truly enrich vocabularies. Another factor prevalent in both cultures is the high degree of video gaming, which in my opinion is truly a non-enriching source of vocabulary.
 
Among my travels to Eastern and Western Canada I have noticed the lack of printed books. I have also noticed this in Japan as well. I just cannot imagine myself setting foot in a house with no books, I would feel lonely. It is true too few families invest the time in sitting to a good book. The Japanese professor of the book I was reading goes beyond this to saying that there is a lack of social involvement within families today. By this I mean for older generations there was more social conversation around the diner table now people rarely have the time to sit down to eat and talk. It is at these little social gatherings where families would share stories and children's' vocabularies would be enriched.
 
What are  we coming to? I am not so sure if formal education in public/private school systems is to blame. I think as the Japanese professor says it is more of a problem at the family and community levels of society. Too few options for people to develop a healthy enriched vocabulary. I have not mentioned one key factor in rural communities I have noticed in Nova Scotia but is prevalent in other rural communities is the lack of travel beyond their own little boundaries and a sense of being too proud of oneself . This pride is almost too ridiculous as if they are the ultimate center of the universe The Chinese have a word that represents humbleness and modesty it is keqi. It is impolite to be arrogant and brag about oneself or one's inner circle.
 

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