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Encyclopedia > Old Japanese language

The Old Japanese language is the Japanese language as used in the Kojiki, Man'yōshū, and other early records of Japanese history and poetry. It is the oldest uncontroversial attested form of Japanese. Earlier Chinese records about the Japanese islands have words that may or may not be related to Japanese. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation devised by linguists to accurately and uniquely represent each of the wide variety of sounds (phones or phonemes) used in spoken human language. ... Phonetic (pho-NET-ic) is a nationwide voicemail-to-text messaging service available for most digital mobile phones in which a subscriber is provided a custom voice mailbox for the purpose of receiving all incoming voice messages as actual transcribed text for reading via short messaging (also known as SMS... Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... This is a concise version of the International Phonetic Alphabet for English sounds. ... Japanese (日本語, ) is a language spoken by over 127 million people, mainly in Japan, but also by Japanese emigrant communities around the world. ... Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記) is the oldest surviving historical book dealing with the ancient history of Japan. ... Manyoshu (万葉集 Manyōshū, Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest existing, and most highly revered, collection of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime in the Nara or early Heian periods. ...

Much Japanese writing at the time was done using Chinese characters for their sound value and not their meaning—called Man'yogana—thus it is possible to describe the approximate sounds of the language but not to derive any certain conclusions. However, recent research has brought us to a much better understanding of what the sounds of Old Japanese probably were, largely through comparative study of synchronous pronunciation of Chinese, reverse analysis of diachronic change in Japanese pronunciation, and comparative study of the Ryukyuan languages. Although the majority of Old Japanese writing represents the language of the Nara court in central Japan, some poems in the Man'yōshū are from southern and eastern Japan, and represent different dialects of Old Japanese. Some of these these dialectical differences are still found today. Japanese writing Kanji 漢字 Kana 仮名 Hiragana 平仮名 Katakana 片仮名 Uses Furigana 振り仮名 Okurigana 送り仮名 Romaji ローマ字 Katakana with manyōgana equivalents (segments of manyōgana adapted into katakana shown in red) Development of hiragana from manyōgana Manyōgana (万葉仮名) is an ancient form of Japanese kana based on... The Ryukyuan languages are spoken in the Ryukyu islands and make up a subfamily of the Japonic family. ...

The most widely accepted phonemic theory is that Old Japanese had eight post-consonantal vocalic distinctions (i.e., vowels), as opposed to Classical Japanese and Modern Japanese, which have only five. This is argued on the basis that phonetic writing in Old Japanese distinguishes two different forms of some syllables, including the vowels <i>, <e>, and <o>, and does so consistently. In modern romanized transcription, the three additional vowels are usually indicated <ï>, <ë>, and <ö>, but this should not be taken to mean that these vowels were necessarily fronted or centralized. Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... The Classical Japanese language was the Japanese language as spoken and written during the Heian era of Japan, circa 900-1200. ...

The transcriptions of Old Japanese words given in the Kojiki differ from those found in the Nihonshoki and Man'yōshū in that they discriminate between the syllables <mo> and <mö> whereas the latter two do not. This has been correlated with the historical record of the Kojiki being compiled earlier than the Nihonshoki, and thus probably indicates the preservation of the distinction between <o> and <ö> after /m/. and its conversion to <o> by the late 6th century.

The consonant inventory was also smaller in Old Japanese. For example, the /h/ and /f/ sounds did not exist, arising later out of Old Japanese's [p]. Thus the honorific portion of the name of the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami was written <öpomikamï>. By the Heian era the Old Japanese [p] had been transformed into Classical Japanese [ɸ] (a bilabial fricative, often written f) word-initially and between vowels, and it subsequently changed into [w] medially and [h] initially in Modern Japanese, with the exception of <fu> which retains the Classical pronunciation of [ɸ]. Later, [w] was lost everywhere except before /a/. Thus the Old Japanese word kapa "river" became kafa in Classical Japanese, and now is kawa in Modern Japanese; this same sound process explains why the particle wa is still written は <ha>. Similarly, Old Japanese /upë/ 'upper' became Classical /uɸe/, which in turn became modern /ue/. This also explains why the directional particle e is written へ <he>, which in Classical Japanese was pronounced [ɸe]. A consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... Torii at the Ama-no-Iwato Shrine in Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture Amaterasu is a Shinto Sun goddess; she is the mythical ancestress of the royal family of Japan. ...

The Modern Japanese syllable [tsu] derives from affrication of [t] before [u] in the Old Japanese [tu], and Modern [zu] arises by the same process from Early Modern [dzu] and Old [du]. Certain modern dialects preserve the distinction between [z] and [dz], for instance in the Nagoya dialect [midzu] for mizu "water". A similar process of palatalization resulted in Modern [tɕi] from Classical and Old [ti]. However, it cannot be ascertained when /ti/ was palatalized; it may have already been an affricate in Old Japanese. An affricate is a consonant that begins like a stop (most often an alveovelar, such as [t] or [d]) and that doesnt have a release of its own, but opens directly into a fricative (or, in one language, into a trill). ... Nagoya Castle in June of 2004. ...

Other characteristic differences of Old Japanese as compared with its modern counterpart include:

  • no long vowels or diphthongs;
  • words do not begin with /r/ or voiced plosives;
  • no syllable-final consonants of any kind.

Some scholars have suggested there is a link between Old Japanese and some of the extinct languages of the Korean peninsula, including the Goguryeo (a.k.a. Koguryo) language, but the relation of Japanese to any language other than Ryukyuan remains undemonstrated. See the Japanese language classification page for more. Historical linguists who specialize in Japanese agree that it is one of the two members of the Japonic language family, but remain divided as to the origins of the Japonic languages. ... Goguryeo (traditional dates 37 BCE – 668) was a kingdom in northern Korea and a large part of Manchuria. ... The Ryukyuan languages are spoken in the Ryukyu islands and make up a subfamily of the Japonic family. ... Historical linguists who specialize in Japanese agree that it is one of the two members of the Japonic language family, but remain divided as to the origins of the Japonic languages. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Japanese Language - MSN Encarta (1421 words)
Because the Japanese language seems to have developed in virtual isolation from other languages, there is no conclusive evidence relating Japanese to a single family of languages and to that family's common ancestor language.
However, because elements of this hypothesis are inconsistent with some of the Japanese language's major characteristics, especially its basic system of sounds, some scholars have turned to the languages of the South Pacific, in the family of Austronesian languages, to find the Japanese language's genetic heritage.
Japanese has also developed separate varieties of the language for use in different social contexts; such varieties are called social styles of speech.
Japanese language at AllExperts (5104 words)
It is considered an agglutinative language and is distinguished by a complex system of honorifics reflecting the hierarchical nature of Japanese society, with verb forms and particular vocabulary which indicate the relative status of speaker and listener.
Japanese emigrant communities (the largest of which are to be found in Brazil) frequently employ Japanese as their primary language.
The Ryukyuan languages, while closely related to Japanese, are distinct enough to be considered a separate branch of the Japonic family, and are not dialects of Japanese.
  More results at FactBites »



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