Last active 8 years ago

  1. 8 years ago
    9 May 2013, 5:08am GMT-0400

    Just for the record, Ethnologue lists 11 Ryukyuan languages divided into 2 branches.

    It is interesting that it recognises that Yonaguni is a seperate languages but also Miyako and Yaeyama in the same status as a language under the Sakishima Branch.

    The Amami-Okinawan branch includes 8 languages.
    The 4 Amami languages agree with your list, whereas the Okinawan languages include Kunigami as a separate language and merge the two Okinawans as one.

    For the 3 Sakishima languages it mentions Tarama-Minna as a dialect of Miyako and Ishigaki and Hateruma as dialects of Yaeyama but doesn't mention Iriomote. Yonaguni doesn't mention any dialects.

  2. 9 May 2013, 4:38am GMT-0400
    kiwisushi posted in Between teeth and leaves: "ha".

    Sorry I haven't posted in a while, been really busy with work and family and not much time to give to Japanese linguistics :(

    Have you noticed that there is an uncanny parallel between body parts and plant parts?

    歯 葉
    鼻 花
    目 芽
    耳 実
    口 茎

    Ok, the last one is a bit dubious, but to me it looks like more than mere coincidence. I'm not too familiar on how to analyze accent patterns (Being from Kansai doesn't help either!!) but perhaps there is some correlation?

    I'm personally very skeptical of the Korean-Japanese connection due to lack of convincing cognate sets in their native vocabularies.

  3. 22 Jan 2013, 10:42pm GMT-0500

    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.

  4. 22 Jan 2013, 4:58am GMT-0500

    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.

  5. 22 Jan 2013, 1:27am GMT-0500

    Hi and thanks for your response. It is very enlightening, especially on the Ryukyuan details.

    I am in favour of reconstructing PJ *p for a number of additional reasons.

    1. Universal tendencies. Since we already agree on a PJ *w rather than a *b, reconstructing *ɸ would leave Proto-Japonic with no bilabial plosives. This may be due to my poor knowledge of languages, but I am unaware of a language that lacks bilabial plosives in their basic phonology. Also, /p/ - /f/ change is well documented in other language families, most notably the Germanic and Romance comparisons observed in the Grimm's Law (although there may be differing opinions as to which direction the change happened, but I'm quite sure most linguists argue for a weakening rather than fortition; I'll have to check ).

    2. The voice/voiceless distinction in Japanese consonants is quite straightforward - /k/-/g/, /s/-/z/, /t/-/d/, except for /h/-/b/. This h-b distinction really throws language learners off, and it is indeed peculiar. Postulating a /ɸ/ in PJ does not solve this peculiarity, but an original /p/-/b/ distinction certainly does.

    Of course these are just clues and they do not serve as direct evidence, but I believe the Chinese and Sinitic loans in Korean justify those tendencies.

    Ryukyuan is something I am interested in as I believe it is crucial in reconstructing Proto-Japonic and at the moment I am unqualified to validate or invalidate your claims for possible fortition of /ɸ/ - /p/. I would presume that /p/ is archaic and the other forms underwent weakening in non-initial position, in order to align it to my notion of PJ *p, but that is just that, merely an assumption. If we assume fortition for other sounds it may be problematic, as you suggest. I need to know more about Ryukyuan and even possibly OJ evidence in order to make better judgments.

  6. 20 Jan 2013, 1:23am GMT-0500

    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

  7. 19 Jan 2013, 5:04am GMT-0500

    Hi. Hajimemashite.

    I've been researching Japanese origins and also Old Japanese texts and their various interpretations. I'm glad I found yourr blog. It seems like it's not very active, so I hope I can heelp with it :) And one of my significant shortcomings is my poor knowledge of Ryukyuan languages, so I'm really interested in the Ryukyuan data you provide.

    As for the reconstruction of *b, *j(y), I completely agree with you. Linguists such as Vovin also cast doubt whether it is reasonable to treat *d as archaic rather than an innovation based on one sub-language (dialect, whatever). You have elaborated to show that /d/ that corresponds to Japanese /j/ is actually quite restricted. Possibly the /d/-/y/ correspondence was a convenient discovery for Altacists who could then compare "yo" with "dort" (four) "yama" with "dag" (mountain) etc in their science-fiction, which has been complete ripped apart by the likes of Georg and Vovin.

    However, I still hold that the reconstruction of *p is accurate. The main reason is that the kanji for which /h/ sounds are pronounced in present day Japanese, /p/ sound or a similar bilabial is found in most Chinese dialects and also sinitic loans in Korean (some are transcribed as "b" but the p/b distinction is more of a aspirated/non-aspirated distinction rather than voice/voiceless distinction). I know there are some Kanji with /h/ that come from /f/ in Chinese, so perhaps there was a time when /p/ and /f/ coexisted in the Japanese phonological system.

    I think that at the time of OJ writings the pronunciation might have already changed to /f/ or /ɸ/ but I think it is unlikely that it was never /p/ on PJ or OJ

  8. 19 Jan 2013, 4:24am GMT-0500
    kiwisushi joined the forum.