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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Peter Backhaus

Peter Backhaus
(Senior Research Fellows, September 1, 2005 - March 31, 2010)

Peter Backhaus received his PhD from Duisburg-Essen University, Germany. He has worked at the German Institute for Japanese Studies since September 2005. Within the institute’s research focus on “Challenges to demographic change” he has been running a project on communication in institutional elderly care. His research interests include sociolinguistics and language change, conversation analysis, and writing and orthography. Since April 2010 Peter Backhaus is Assistant Professor at Waseda University, Tokyo.

DIJ Projects

Completed DIJ Projects

Communication between staff and residents in a Japanese nursing home for the elderly

Challenges of Demographic Change




Linguistic Landscapes: A Comparative Study of Urban Multilingualism in Tokyo. DIJ Publications. Clevedon(UK): Multilingual Matters. 158 p.


Communication in Elderly Care. Cross-Cultural Perspectives. DIJ Publications. London, New York: Continuum Int. Publishing Group. 226 p.
[With: Coulmas, Florian] International Journal of the Sociology of Language 200. Social Aging and Language. DIJ Publications. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 211 p.
[With: Coulmas, Florian; Shōji, Hiroshi] Nihon no gengo keikan (Japan’s linguistic landscape). DIJ Publications. Tokyo: Sangensha. 206 p.
Japanstudien 19. Familienangelegenheiten (Family affairs). Japanstudien 19. München: iudicium Verlag. 284 p.


"Me Nurse, You Resident": Institutional Role-Play in a Japanese Caring Facility
In: Backhaus, PeterXXX (Ed.) Communication in Elderly Care. Cross-Cultural Perspectives. DIJ Publications. London, New York: Continuum Int. Publishing Group. 226 p.
The Power of Address: Age and Gender in Japanese Eldercare Communication
In: Lützeler, RalphXXX; Coulmas, FlorianXXX (Ed.) Imploding Populations in Japan and Germany. DIJ Publications. Brill. 548 p.
Time to get up: Compliance-gaining in a Japanese eldercare facility
In: Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 20 (1). pp. 69-89.
[With: Coulmas, Florian] Introduction: aging and language
In: Backhaus, PeterXXX; Coulmas, FlorianXXX (Ed.) International Journal of the Sociology of Language 200. Social Aging and Language. DIJ Publications. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 211 p.
Politeness in institutional elderly care in Japan: A cross-cultural comparison
In: Journal of Politeness Research 5. pp. 54-71.
On resident-staff interaction in a Japanese elderly care facility
In: Health Communication: Journal of the Korean Academy on Communication in Healthcare 3 (2). pp.102-108.
Rules and regulations in linguistic landscaping: A comparative perspective
In: Shohamy, E.; Gorter, D. (Ed.) Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery. London & New York: Routledge. pp. 157-172.
The linguistic landscape of Tokyo
In: Barni, Monica; Extra, Guus (Ed.) Mapping Linguistic Diversity in Multicultural Contexts. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. pp. 311-333.
Coming to Terms with Age: Some Linguistic Consequences of Population Ageing
In: Schad-Seifert, AnnetteXXX; Conrad, HaraldXXX; Vogt, GabrieleXXX; Coulmas, FlorianXXX (Ed.) The Demographic Challenge: A Handbook about Japan. DIJ Publications. Leiden, Boston: Brill. 1199 S.
[With: Shikama, Ayako; Yamakawa, Tomoko] Doitsugo wa dare no mono? Tayō na doitsugo shiyōsha o taishō to shita gengo seisaku (Who owns the German language? Language policies for heterogeneous language users)
In: Yamamoto, T.; Kawahara, T. (Ed.) Sekai no gengo seisaku (The world’s language policies). Tokyo: Kurosio. pp. 179-200.
Alphabet ante portas. How English text invades Japanese public space
In: Visible Language 41 (1). pp. 70-87.
Kōkyō moji to Nihon no tagengoka (Written language in public space and Japan’s new multilingualism)
In: Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo (Ed.) Shin kotoba shirīzu 20. 20. Tokyo: Gyōsei. pp. 92-97.
Multilingualism in Tokyo. A look into the linguistic landscape
In: International Journal of Multilingualism. 3 (1). pp. 52-66.
Nihon no tagengo keikan (Japan's multilingual landscape)
In: Sanada, S.; Shōji, H. (Ed.) Jiten Nihon no tagengo shakai (Encyclopedia of Japan's multilingual society). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. pp. 53-56.
Signs of multilingualism in Tokyo. A diachronic look at the linguistic landscape
In: Heinrich, Patrick; Coulmas, FlorianXXX (Ed.) International Journal of the Sociology of Language 175/176. Changing Language Regimes in Globalizing Environments: Japan and Europe. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 103-121.
Uchi naru kokusaika – Tōkyōto no gengo sābisu (Internal internationalisation – The City of Tokyo's language services)
In: Kawahara,T. (Ed.) Jichitai no gengo sābisu (Language services of local governments). Yokohama: Shunpūsha. pp.37-53.
How multilingual are multilingual cities? Some suggestions for the assessment of linguistic heterogeneity in urban regions
In: Plurilingua. XXV, 109-18. pp. 109-118.
[With: Shikama, Ayako] Gengo no motsu keizaiteki na kachi ni tsuite oshiete kudasai (Explain about the economic value of a language)
In: Kawahara, T.; Yamamoto, T. (Ed.) Tagengo shakai ga yatte kita. Sekai no gengoseisaku Q&A (Multilingual society has come. The world's language policies Q&A). Tokyo: Kurosio. pp. 216-217.
Tōkyō no tagengo hyōji (Multilingual signs in Tokyo)
In: Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo (Ed.) Kokugoken no mado. Tokyo: Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo. p. 5.
[With: Coulmas, Florian; Shikama, Ayako] Monolinguistic assumptions under pressure - Perspectives on the languages of Tokyo from the points of view of the economics of language and social psychology
In: Asien. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur. 84. pp. 8-18.


Hiromichi Hosoma, Kaigo suru karada [Bodies doing care]
In: Contemporary Japan 29, No. 1. Contemporary Japan. Routledge.
Discourse and Politeness: Ambivalent Face in Japanese, by Naomi Geyer
In: Coulmas, FlorianXXX (Ed.) International Journal of the Sociology of Language 199. Multilingualism and Language Politics: New Challenges. DIJ Publications. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 156 p.
Natsuko Tsujimura: An Introduction to Japanese Linguistics. Malden et al.: Blackwell
In: LINGUIST List, April 5th 2007.

Working Papers (Book)

Newspaper Articles

Even Japanese don't understand doctor-speak
In: The Japan Times. January 28. p.12.
So is it respect for 'the aged,' 'the elderly' or 'the seniors'?
In: The Japan Times. September 2.
KY-style Japanese: Express yourself alphabetically
In: The Japan Times. April 22. p. 15.
Odd use of foreign loan words a sign of the times
In: The Japan Times. 21 March.
Japan's changing linguistic landscape
In: The Japan Times. 23 December.
Multilingualism coming to a sign near you
In: The Japan Times. 4 September.

Other Articles

No room at the inn: “Care refugees” in Japan
In: DIJ Newsletter. DIJ Newsletter 33.00. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien.
New words for the old
In: DIJ Newsletter. DIJ Newsletter 28.00. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien.


April 2, 2004
The languages of Tokyo: Some observations from the linguistic street image. 15th Sociolinguistic Symposium, Newcastle, England.

March 31, 2004
Multilingualism in Tokyo: Reading the signs. International Conference “Changing Language Regimes in Globalizing Environments“, Europe and Japan, Duisburg-Essen University.

June 7, 2003
「東京の多言語表示」. 日本言語政策学会第2回大会, 成城大学、東京都世田谷区.

March 29, 2009
「施設介護におけるコミュニケーション:ことばとテンポと力関係」. 第23回社会言語科学会研究大会, 東京外国語大学府中キャンパス.

September 7, 2008
Communication in institutional elderly care in Japan. Seoul International Conference on Communication in Health Care, Seoul, Korea.

April 5, 2008
Communication in institutional elderly care in Japan. 17th Sociolinguistic Symposium, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

January 20, 2008
A sign is just a sign: Some reflections on doing linguistic landscape research. Tel Aviv Linguistic Landscape Workshop, Tel Aviv, Israel.

September 16, 2007
「東京の言語景観」. 第20回社会言語科学会研究大会, 関西学院大学西宮上ケ原キャンパス.

July 2, 2007
Politeness in institutional elderly care in Japan: A comparative perspective. Third International Symposium on Politeness, Leeds, England.

September 23, 2006
Care, control, communication: Linguistic interaction between staff and residents in a Japanese nursing home for the elderly. GlobE 2006 Conference, Warsaw, Poland.

September 17, 2006
The languages of Tokyo: Mapping linguistic diversity through linguistic landscape research. European Science Foundation Workshop “Mapping linguistic diversity in multicultural contexts”, Siena, Italy.

March 11, 2006
「東京の言語景観から見た日本の多言語化」. 多言語化現象研究会, 国立民族学博物館、大阪府吹田市.

November 6, 2005
Impacts of Japan’s aging society on the semiotic organization of public spaces. AJJ 8th Annual Meeting, Sophia University, Tokyo.

November 20, 2004
「東京の言語サービス」. 日本言語政策学会第5回大会, 國學院大学渋谷キャンパス.

October 1, 2009
Me Nurse You Resident: Institutional Role Play in a Japanese Caring Facility. Communication in Institutional Elderly Care: Cross-cultural Perspectives.

April 25, 2009

June 2, 2009

March 7, 2008
Care Communication: Language in Institutional Elderly Care. Socio-political and Business Aspects of Care in an Era of Demographic Change.

March 15, 2007
Multilingualism in the linguistic landscape. Language and Script Life in Japan.

December 11, 2004
The administrative background to Tokyo's linguistic landscape (J). Linguistic landscaping in changing language regimes – the case of Japan.


since 9/2005
Research fellow, German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo

2002 – 2005
Research associate/Lecturer, Duisburg-Essen University, Germany; PhD in 7/2005

1996 – 2002
Student of Linguistics and Japanese Studies, Düsseldorf University, Germany; M.A. in 3/2002

Born in Aachen, Germany