Zur sprachräumlichen Gliederung des Japanischen
Influenced by dialect-geographical studies and established as a part of linguistics in the second half of the last century through the pioneering works of European linguists, research on Japanese dialects as well as their geographical distribution became very popular in Japan. The article begins with a comparison of different dialect division development models by researchers like Tōjō Misao or Hirayama Teruo. Special emphasis is laid on the problem of determining the exact border between Western and Eastern Japanese dialects. Thereafter, certain morphological, lexicographical, and phonological elements by which the dialects can be distinguished are pointed out. It is shown that Japanese dialects, like dialects in other languages, conserve many elements of the standard language of former centuries. With regard to the process of spatial diffusion, it is suggested that most linguistic elements dispersed concentrically from the center to the periphery. Orographical barriers like the Japanese alps and feudal political borders may have modified this process, contributing to the formation of a language border between Western and Eastern Japan.