Morphemes -ne, -na and -ni in Japonic.

  1. 9 years ago


    Sep 2012 Administrator
    Edited 9 years ago by Zachary

    The morpheme -ne (根), and its allomorphic variants -na and -ni, appears in a huge amount of native vocabulary in the Japonic languages and dialects. But even though it's so widespread, it has somehow lost its value and fallen out of productive usage. The real question is, however, what exactly was its purpose? And further to that, what conditions brought about its allomorphic variants?

    To answer this, we need to compile some data.

    -ne variant:

    • ine "rice plant" (cf. yone "husked rice") :: i "soft rush (plant)"
    • hane "wing, feather" :: ha (ibid.) :: wa (counter for birds and rabbits)
    • kitsune "fox" :: kitsu (ibid.) :: kitsu "good fortune"
    • hone "bone" :: ?ha "teeth"
    • fune "boat" (cf. Kyushu hone) :: ho "sail"
    • mine "(mountain) peak"
    • mune "breast"
    • mune "pillar"
    • une "rib"
    • kane "money" :: kin "gold"
    • sane "core" (in Kyushu, variant of "tane")
    • tane "seed, source"
    • sune "lower leg"
    • one "(mountain) ridge" :: o "(mountain) slope"
    • yane "roof" :: ya "house"
    • kine "mallet" :: ki "tree"

    -na variant:

    • hana "flower" :: ha "leaf" :: ho "head of a plant" (? Mandarin: huā, Cantonese "flower")
    • suna "sand" :: su "sandbank"
    • kamina "hermit crab" :: kami "crab"
    • kona "flour, powder" :: ko (ibid.)
    • shina "item"
    • tana "shelf"
    • tsuna "rope; hawser" (cf. tsunagu "to tie") :: tsu "harbour, ferry"
    • hina "doll" :: hi "princess" :: hi "female servant"
    • wana "snare" :: wana "loop" :: wa "circle, loop"
    • yuna "woman who works in bathhouse" :: yu "hot water"

    -ni variant:

    • kani "crab" (cf. Kagoshima gane, Koshikijima gaane, and Shuri gaani; Korean ge)
    • kuni "country, homeland" :: gun "district, country" :: ku "ward, district"
    • tani "valley" :: ta "field"
    • eni "fate, relationship" :: e (ibid.)
    • yani "resin" :: ya "melting"
    • wani "shark; crocodile" :: ?ha "teeth"
    • uni "sea urchin"
    • dani "tick" :: ?dani "horse's load" :: da "packhorse; worthless"
    • yuni "boil" :: yu "hot water"

    The list above is non-exhaustive, contains some conjectures and may feature some terms and relations that do not fit. For instance, we find the terms yuna "bathhouse woman" and yuni "boil", both which relate to yu "hot water" (and by extension, "bathhouse"). The morpheme -na in yuna might be derived by association with the term onna "woman", but it's not clear. And the morpheme -ni in yuni appears to be connected to the verb 煮る niru "to boil", disqualifying it. Other such terms could equally be the product of separate morphemes or derived through nominalization of historically irregular verbs ending in -nu, -nuru, -neru or -niru. One example of this is mane "mimicry" versus maneru "to mimic".

    In any case, some terms ending in -ne observe a shift to -na in compounds. For example, ine "rice (plant)" shifts in the term inada "rice field" and inago "rice grasshopper". The morpheme -ne is also sometimes spelled with the Kanji for 根 "root", but it's unclear if a relation exists, or if this is just phonetic spelling. Similarly, the form -ni is sometimes spelled with the Kanji 丹 "red" or 胆 "bile", though these are phonetically spelled. The reason we can also stipulate a related connection with the variant -ni is due to the discrepency between regional forms, as in the word for "crab", where the Southern Japonic data points to the historical form *gane.

    So what does it mean?

    Unfortunately, the data is very inconclusive. In some cases, there's no real significant shift in meaning. In others, we can note that the shorter form has a larger semantic extension, while the suffixed form seems to be more limited. In this case, it could be possible to consider it some form of diminutive. However, this is not always the case.

    Given the fact that almost all the words above are bimoraic (bisyllabic), I'd like to further propose the idea that the suffix is also used to prevent the monomoraicity (monosyllabicity) of these words. Similar phenomenons are observed in other languages, an example being Cree which appends a trailing epethentic vowel when an otherwise monosyllabic word is used on its own without other morphemes.

    For words ending in -ni, it's possible they may be derived from the nominal form of the verb 似る niru "to resemble".

    Relation to Korean?

    Korean has the diminutive suffix 이 -i which can be used after names ending in consonants. In the vocative case (i.e. when calling out to someone), the suffix becomes 아 -ah for names ending in a consonant, or 야 -yah for those ending in a vowel.

    The interesting thing about the non-vocative form 이 -i is that it only appears after a consonant. Considering Japanese rules only permit -n in syllable final position, it's quite possible that, assuming any relation, the diminutive was reanalyzed as -ni (here, assuming the origin would have been -i in Japanese, though -e and -a are possible candidates).

    And, while the diminutive is only used with proper names in standard Korean, it seems to appear with regular nouns in peripheral dialects. For example, Japanese 蟹 kani (Kyushu gane) corresponds to standard Korean 게 ge (pronounced /ke:/ in the Gangneung dialect ), which in turn corresponds to the Jeju dialectal form 깅이 ging-i. Standard Korean 새 sae "bird" (pronounced /sɛ:/ in Gangneung) also corresponds to the Jeju form 생이 saeng-i. The reason the Jeju data is so important here is that it further reveals a final -ng where standard Korean has none, so a parallel with Japanese is not implausible. Numerous mainland Korean dialects also exhibit a final off-glide [j] at the end of both the words for 'crab' and 'bird', so perhaps standard Korean reduced the ending -ng-i to -i, which may have further coalesced in the word for "crab": *gang-i > *ga-i > ge (or *geng-i > *ge-i > ge).

  2. Zachary

    Sep 2012 Administrator
    Edited 8 years ago by Zachary

    It has been suggested that the word for "crab" in Korean isn't related to Japanese, but rather Chinese, by comparison with the Japanese on'yomi reading kai for 蟹. Compare this to Cantonese haai5; Mandarin chán and xiè; Min Nan chîm-á; Hakka cixm'ar; and Sino-Vietnamese giải "crab".

    This, however, must be rejected on two premises. The first is that the Sinitic form borrowed into Korean is 해 hae, which indicates that the *k in the Sino-Japanese form was historically *h in the language it was borrowed from. The second is that, if the word was borrowed and was historically pronounced */kai/ or */gai/ in Korean, then we would expect the modern reflex in Korean to be *kae or *gae (not 게 ke or ge), retaining roughly the same pronunciation as the Sino-Japanese form. Compare the following Sinitic borrowings in both languages:

    Japanese dai
    Korean dae

    Japanese bai
    Korean pae

    Japanese mai
    Korean mae

    Japanese rai
    Korean rae > nae

    Japanese nai
    Korean nae

    Another point of interest is that Samuel Elmo Martin notes the dialectal Korean form gengi on page 38 of his book Consonant Lenition in Korean and the Macro-Altaic Question. Unfortunately, he does not state which dialect this refers to, but it does further eliminate the immediate Sinitic origin idea, making the relation between the Korean and Japanese forms much more likely.

  3. What is the reason for presuming a -ne morpheme? If you postulate the -ne to be 根 then the presumed meaning would something connected to "root".

    Many of the -ne words have a -na variant, especially when attached to another morpheme. This has led some scholars to believe that -na is archaic and the adjective particle -i caused "-nai" which then turned into -ne, and from there propose a 4 vowel hypothesis for PJ.

    Here is a list of some words which -e is used for the standalone noun and -a when attached to another morpheme. But this includes not only -ne but other -e endings too.

    ine (rice plant) ina-saku (rice planting agriculture)
    mune (chest) muna-ge (chest hair)
    fune (boat) funa-nori (boat rider)
    kane (metal) kana-mono (things made from metal)
    sake (alcoholic) saka-na (dishes that go with sake; this later changed its meaning to "fish" as we know it now)
    kaze (wind) kaza-muki (direction of wind)
    ame (rain) ama-yadori (sheltering from rain)
    koe (voice) kowa-daka (in a high pitch voice)
    ue (up/above) uwa-muki (facing upward)
    tume (nail) tuma-saki (tip of the finger)

    I personally don't think this indicates a 4-vowel hypothesis. The -i particle for adjectives appears much later and the adjective particles were -shi and -ki back in OJ. The scarcity of -e vowels in native vocabulary is quite remarkable but -e is very importat for verb conjugation.

    I'll stop here coz I'll be getting into the 8 vowel vs 5, 6, 7 vowel hopotheses, which would be too much for me right now ;0

  4. Zachary

    Jan 2013 Administrator

    The reason for positing such a morpheme is due to the semantic doublets, such as *kitsu* and *kitsune*, which both mean "fox". If *kitsu* on its own means "fox", then *-ne* has to be a morpheme that was appended for some reason or another, but its meaning eventually became defective with time. Same thing with the *-ni* in *eni* ~ *e* "fate; relationship". The question to wonder is whether this -ni/-ne/-na ending is actually the same morpheme across all these words, or does it stem from different morphemes (i.e. suffixes, words, verbal forms, etc.)?

    As for 根, it's more likely just a Kanji chosen because it represents the sound /ne/ (a phenomenon called "ateji"), though its use does make some sense in the context of rice plants (*ine*). If there ever was a relation to the notion of "root; origin; source", then the meaning would have changed at some point when used as such a suffix. But this is just me conjecturing.

    As for the vowel shifting, it's certainly an interesting idea. I've also seen the notion of vowel harmony proposed, but I'm certainly no expert in this field. I've always wondered, however, if the phenomenon also exists in Ryukyuan.

  5. I don't the meaning of 根 is necessarily correct even for the hypothetical suffix -ne. There is a Japanese word "ne" which meant "root", so when they imported the character 根 from Chinese ("geng" in pinyin), they attributed the sound "ne" to the word - standard practice for forming "kun-yomi", which I am sure you already know (the onyomi being "kon"). (Ateji, by the way, usually refers to more recent loans where Japanese people attribute Kanji to fit the sound; I haven't heard the term being used in the development of kun-yomi, but I may be wrong). So to go back and attribute that Kanji 根 to all the possible -ne suffixes seems circular logic to me. Japanese, with its relatively simple phonetic structure, is sure to have had many homophones, and with its rich vowel inflections I think it's an incredibly complex adventure to try and determine the identity of the -ne, as well as the -na and -ni morphemes.

    Your example of "kitune" vs "kitu" is very strong. It seems very reasonable to hypothesise a -ne morpheme there. Wikipedia in Japanese thinks it is an honorific term in Shintoism! I really can't comment on that...

    "Eni", as far as I know, does not belong here. The word for relationship/fate is "en", not "e". It is a loan from Chinese 縁 (pinyin: yuan). "Eni" was apparently used as a variant and a pun for 江に "eni" meaning "to the sea/river" in poems.

    Also, with the frequency of vowel change from -e to -a, also observed in other consonants, the root of the word in many of the above words is likely to include the /n/. Whether to segment "kane" as "ka-ne" or "kan-e" has huge implications for morphological analysis.

    On the vowel shift issue as well as vowel harmony, will I be forgiven if I started a seperate thread in the next while, once I have managed to compile some more data?

    I'm really enjoying the discussion by the way. I've read a lot of material and thought a lot about Japanese but usually most history forums these discussions get contaminated with misguided statistics on haplogroup distributions and photos of what some Japanese look like. It's great that I've found a place where we can have a serious discussion on linguistic matters.

  6. Zachary

    Jan 2013 Administrator

    I'd consider 根 to be both partly Ateji and a kun'yomi reading. When you consider the word 羽根 hane "wing; feather", for example, the word as a whole is read using the native kun'yomi reading. However, though 羽 is semantically related (and means the same thing), 根 is not, which makes it a character used for its phonetic property. Perhaps it's not fully Ateji, but the concept is essentially the same.

    As for 縁 "fate", the readings "e", "en", "eni" and "enishi" are all mentioned in the EDICT, which is why the term was brought up in the list. Though, as you pointed out, "en" and "eni" are indeed loans from Chinese, so "e" may simply be a reduced form with very limited use, if any. In which case, it would have to be discarded.

    I'm still not sure what to think of the other etymologies for kitsune, but even disregarding it, we still have some other terms where the relationship is curious, such as ha and hane "feather; wing" (羽) or ko and kona "flour; powder" (粉).

    At any rate, it makes me happy that you've found this forum and that the site may be of some use :) Feel more than free to create new threads on as many different topics as you would like.

  7. Thanks for the clarification of 根. You are right, it does make sense to consider it as a kind of ateji. In that sense, I have no problem attributing it to the hypothetical morpheme -ne (-ni, -na).

    I'm certainly not inclined to discard all the words on your list, or the idea itself of such a morpheme. "Hane" "Kona" are certainly words that hold great possibility among that list. I wasn't aware of the binary for "kitsune", so I'm indebted to you for pointing that out.

    I just haven't had the time to evaluate all the words on the list, but simply pointed out a few things I noticed on first glance. I'm sure when I get some time I can do a more thorough evaluation of each item. So far, "eni" is the only one I would discard with a certain degree of assurance.

    I'm actually less confident, on retrospect, about even the possibility of segmenting words such as "kane" as "kan-e", because there is no (or very little) indication that Japonic speakers at any stage were aware of phonemes, rather than syllables. For the e/a variation, it is more reasonable to assume a simple vowel inflection rather assume a vowel suffix. This would then make the -ne suffix and their variants quite a promising idea.

    Perhaps -ne is an "honorific Shinto term" as wiki puts it??? It's a crazy idea to attribute that meaning to all the other words too... Wiki does give reference to an OJ dictionary, but I haven't looked up that dictionary so I'm not sure what evidence that dictionary would give for that meaning.

    Thanks for the green light on starting new threads! Ones I would like to start are on the vowel theories and also on PJ reconstructions of voiced consonants. I think constructing a nasal glide for all voiced obstruents is way too simplistic, and many of the reconstructions simply do not agree with internal evidence. I will refer to Martine Robbeets' comparisons with other Altaic languages to show that many reconstructions are obvious ghosts and I want to discuss the idea of whether voiced consonants could possible be reconstructed for PJ medial positions.

  8. 8 years ago


    Jul 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea
    Edited 8 years ago by Miyukwa

    I think the pair tume₂ (Modern tsume) "nail" and tuno₁ (Modern tsuno) "horn" belongs here. Perhaps the original meaning was "tip"; among the poems of Man'yōshū, at least one such usage of tume₂ is found.

    大橋の 頭に家あらば [...]
    ofo-fasi no₂ / tume₂ ni ife₁ araba / [...]
    "If there was a house at the end of the great bridge, [...]" (万葉集 9:1743)

    (Actually, tume₂ is a regular roshutsukei variant of tuma, and the word just turns out to mean "tip, edge".) Moreover, umi₁ (Modern umi) "sea" and the prefix una- in unadi (Modern unaji) "sea road", etc. shows the same alteration. Note that the pair mi₁ "water" and mi₁na- is very similar to the previous one, and is interpreted to involve the genitive suffix -na.

    During the early 20th century, Japanese scholars coined the term hifukukei (compound form, lit. "hidden form") and roshutsukei (standalone form, lit. "exposed form") to describe some seemingly related cases of vowel alteration. According to the 7-vowel hypothesis, the alterations are:

    hifukukei -a :: roshutsukei -e₂ (< *-a-i) as in kaza- [e.g. kazafana "snowflakes (lit. windflower)"] and kaze "wind"
    hifukukei -u :: roshutsukei -i₂ (< *-u-i) as in tuku- [e.g. tukuyo₁ "moonlit night"] and tuki₂ "moon"
    hifukukei -o₂ (< *-ɨ) :: roshutsukei -i₂ (< *-ɨ-i) as in ko₂- [e.g. ko₂tati "a bunch of trees"] and ki₂ "tree"
    hifukukei -o₂ (< *-ə) :: roshutsukei -e₂ (< *-ə-i) as in so₂- [e.g. so₂muk- 4 "to turn ones back on"] and se "back"

    It is very clear that the roshutsukei are essentially i-suffixed forms. On the other hand, the hifukukei can be called unsuffixed forms. Then we can name our set of words, tuno₁, una-, etc., "n-suffixed forms". At least one nominal stem, *fas- "tip, edge" (< *fatas-? cf. fata "id."), has both i-suffixed and n-suffixed forms: fasi and fana. Maybe mi₂na "everyone" is both i-suffixed and n-suffixed from mo₂ro₂- "both, many, together" (cf. mo₂ro₂-mo₂ro₂ "a lot of people, everyone"). Words with -ne also seem to be twice suffixed but in a different order (< *-na-i, *-nə-i).

    In my opinion, both i-suffixation and n-suffixation are remnants of Proto-Japanese case system. There has been such arguments for i-suffixation, and my argument for n-suffixation is as follows. First of all, the vowel alteration between -na and -no₂ is exactly what is observed from the Old Japanese system of genitive suffixes. And more importantly, there is a similar construction with -ga (another genitive suffix in Old Japanese): Old Japanese ikaruga "name of a Senran Kagura character voiced by Asami Imaia bird" is just ikaru in the later stages of the language.

  9. Miyukwa

    Jul 2014 Daejeon, Republic of Korea
    Edited 8 years ago by Miyukwa

    It seems like there is one more case of i-suffixation followed by n-suffixation. It is well known that ye "branch (of a tree)" is sometimes yo₂ in compounds like fito₂-yo₂ (n.b. this is not a hifukukei–roshutsukei alteration because yo₂ appears as a second component of the compound, not the first). Each of them has a longer form, i.e. yeda (found in Japanese) and *yo₂da (found in many Okinawan dialects as yuda). Then, it is clear that yo₂ is the original form, ye is the i-suffixed form, *yo₂da < *yo₂-n-ta is a derivation from n-suffixed form, and finally yeda < *yo₂-i-n-ta should be seen as a derivation from a twice suffixed form.

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