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日本語（本土方言、あるいは日本語派）と琉球列島の琉球語（琉球方言、あるいは琉球語派・琉球諸語）との系統関係は明らかである。国際的には、両者を別言語とみなし、合わせて日琉語族を形成するという立場が一般的であるが、日本語の起源論では、琉球語と日本語の系統関係は証明済みとし、「日本語の起源」という言葉で「日本語+琉球語」全体（日琉語族）の起源を論ずることが一般的である。なお、日本語と琉球語で日琉語族とする説と、琉球語を日本語の琉球方言とする説とは、日本語の起源論においては単なる言葉の定義の異同の問題であり、本質的な争点とはならない。 これまでにいくつかの系統関係に関する理論仮説は出されてきたものの、総意を得たものは無い。これまでの理論仮説で、類縁関係が強いと主張された言語系統には、以下のものがある。 朝鮮語との関係 1. 朝鮮語とは文法構造における類似性が非常に高いが、基礎語彙については一部単語の類似性が指摘されているものの相違な点も多い、また古い時代における借用の可能性もある。音韻の面では、固有語において語頭に流音が立たないこと、一種の母音調和があることなど、アルタイ諸語と共通点がある一方で、閉音節であること、子音連結の存在、有声・無声の区別が無いなどの相違点もある。 高句麗語・扶余諸語との系統関係 1. 死語である高句麗語とは、数詞など似る語彙もあるという説。ただし高句麗語の実態はほとんど分かっていない。高句麗語は扶余諸語の一つであることから、扶余諸語との関係との見方もある。 アルタイ語族説 1. アルタイ語族仮説では、日本語、朝鮮語は共にアルタイ語族の一員とする。朝鮮語との関係と同様に、文法構造での高い類似性、音韻面での部分的類似性がある一方で、基礎語彙については同系統とするに足るだけの類似性は見出されていない。 オーストロネシア語族との関係 1. オーストロネシア系言語は、文法・形態は日本語と異なるが、音韻については発音体系が比較的単純で開音節であるなど日本語と似ており、基礎語彙についても一部類似性が指摘されている。また、日本語をオーストロネシア系言語とアルタイ系言語との混合言語だとする説もある。しかし、近年の研究ではオーストロネシア系言語は古くは閉音節だったとされ、また語彙の類似性についても偶然の一致の範囲を出るものとは言い難い。 ドラヴィダ語族との関係...
日琉語族の話者が紀元前700年～300年頃に朝鮮半島から日本列島に移住し、最終的に列島先住言語に取って代わったことは、広く受け入れられている。 朝鮮半島における無文土器文化の担い手が現代日本語の祖先となる日琉語族に属する言語を話していたという説が複数の学者から提唱されている。これらの説によれば、古代満州南部から朝鮮半島北部にかけての地域で確立された朝鮮語族に属する言語集団が北方から南方へ拡大し、当時朝鮮半島中部から南部に存在していた日琉語族の集団に置き換わっていったとしている。この過程で南方へ追いやられる形となった日琉語族話者の集団が弥生人の祖であるとされる。 この朝鮮語族話者の拡大及び日琉語族話者の置き換えが起きた時期については諸説ある。ジョン・ホイットマンや宮本一夫らは満州から朝鮮半島南部に移住した日琉語族話者が無文土器時代の末まで存続し、琵琶形銅剣の使用に代表される朝鮮半島青銅器時代に朝鮮語話者に置き換わったとしている。一方でAlexander Vovinは朝鮮半島の三国時代において高句麗から朝鮮語族話者が南下し、百済・新羅・加耶などの国家を設立するまで朝鮮半島南部では日琉語族話者が存在していたとする。服部四郎 『日本語の系統』（1959年 単行本もあり）1999年岩波文庫村山七郎・大林太良 『日本語の起源』1973年弘文堂村山七郎『日本語の語源』1974年弘文堂亀井孝・大藤時彦・山田俊雄編『日本語の歴史1』2006年 平凡社ライブラリー,ISBN 4582765955
各言語・諸語 1. 日琉語族 1.1. 日本語派 1.2. 琉球語派 2. アイヌ語 3. アルタイ諸語 4. 朝鮮語 5. シナ・チベット語族 6. 東アジア言語 7. 孤立した言語 8. オーストリック大語族 各学問 1. 比較言語学 2. 言語類型論 3. 日本語学
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Proto-Japonic, the common ancestor of the Japanese and Ryukyuan languages, is thought to have been brought to Japan by settlers coming from the Korean peninsula sometime in the early- to mid-4th century BC (the Yayoi period), replacing the languages of the original Jōmon inhabitants, including the ancestor of the modern Ainu language. Very little is known about the Japanese of this period. Because writing had yet to be introduced from China, there is no direct evidence, and anything that can...
Old Japanese is the oldest attested stage of the Japanese language. Through the spread of Buddhism, the Chinese writing system was imported to Japan. The earliest texts found in Japan are written in Classical Chinese, but they may have been meant to be read as Japanese by the kanbun method. Some of these Chinese texts show influences of Japanese grammar, such as the word order (for example, placing the verb after the object). In these hybrid texts, Chinese characters are also occasionally use...
Early Middle Japanese
Early Middle Japanese is the Japanese of the Heian period, from 794 to 1185. Early Middle Japanese sees a significant amount of Chinese influence on the language's phonology – length distinctions become phonemic for both consonants and vowels, and series of both labialised (e.g. kwa) and palatalised (kya) consonants are added. Intervocalic /ɸ/ merges with /w/ by the 11th century.The end of Early Middle Japanese sees the beginning of a shift where the attributive form (Japanes...
Although Japanese is spoken almost exclusively in Japan, it has been spoken outside. Before and during World War II, through Japanese annexation of Taiwan and Korea, as well as partial occupation of China, the Philippines, and various Pacific islands, locals in those countrieslearned Japanese as the language of the empire. As a result, many elderly people in these countries can still speak Japanese. Japanese emigrant communities (the largest of which are to be found in Brazil, with 1.4 million to 1.5 million Japanese immigrants and descendants, according to Brazilian IBGE data, more than the 1.2 million of the United States) sometimes employ Japanese as their primary language. Approximately 12% of Hawaii residents speak Japanese, with an estimated 12.6% of the population of Japanese ancestry in 2008. Japanese emigrants can also be found in Peru, Argentina, Australia (especially in the eastern states), Canada (especially in Vancouver where 1.4% of the population has Japanese ancestry...
Japanese is a member of the Japonic languages family, which also includes the languages spoken throughout the Ryūkyū Islands. As these closely related languages are commonly treated as dialects of the same language, Japanese is often called a language isolate. According to Martine Irma Robbeets, Japanese has been subject to more attempts to show its relation to other languages than any other language in the world. Since Japanese first gained the consideration of linguists in the late 19th century, attempts have been made to show its genealogical relation to languages or language families such as Ainu, Korean, Chinese, Tibeto-Burman, Ural-Altaic, Altaic, Uralic, Mon–Khmer, Malayo-Polynesian and Ryukyuan. At the fringe, some linguists have suggested a link to Indo-European languages, including Greek, and to Lepcha. As it stands, only the link to Ryukyuan has wide support.
All Japanese vowels are pure – that is, there are no diphthongs, only monophthongs. The only unusual vowel is the high back vowel /u/ (listen), which may be compressed rather than rounded and fronted. Japanese has five vowels, and vowel length is phonemic, with each having both a short and a long version. Elongated vowels are usually denoted with a line over the vowel (a macron) in rōmaji, a repeated vowel character in hiragana, or a chōonpu succeeding the vowel in katakana.
Some Japanese consonants have several allophones, which may give the impression of a larger inventory of sounds. However, some of these allophones have since become phonemic. For example, in the Japanese language up to and including the first half of the 20th century, the phonemic sequence /ti/ was palatalized and realized phonetically as [tɕi], approximately chi (listen); however, now [ti] and [tɕi] are distinct, as evidenced by words like tī [tiː] "Western-style tea" and chii [tɕii]"social...
Japanese word order is classified as subject–object–verb. Unlike many Indo-European languages, the only strict rule of word order is that the verb must be placed at the end of a sentence (possibly followed by sentence-end particles). This is because Japanese sentence elements are marked with particlesthat identify their grammatical functions. The basic sentence structure is topic–comment. For example, Kochira wa Tanaka-san desu (こちらは田中さんです). kochira ("this") is the topic of the sentence, indi...
Inflection and conjugation
Japanese nouns have no grammatical number, gender or article aspect. The noun hon (本) may refer to a single book or several books; hito (人) can mean "person" or "people", and ki (木) can be "tree" or "trees". Where number is important, it can be indicated by providing a quantity (often with a counter word) or (rarely) by adding a suffix, or sometimes by duplication (e.g. 人人, hitobito, usually written with an iteration mark as 人々). Words for people are usually understood as singular. Thus Tanak...
Japanese has an extensive grammatical system to express politeness and formality. This reflects the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. The Japanese language can express differing levels in social status. The differences in social position are determined by a variety of factors including job, age, experience, or even psychological state (e.g., a person asking a favour tends to do so politely). The person in the lower position is expected to use a polite form of speech, whereas the other...
There are three main sources of words in the Japanese language, the yamato kotoba (大和言葉) or wago (和語), kango (漢語), and gairaigo (外来語). The original language of Japan, or at least the original language of a certain population that was ancestral to a significant portion of the historical and present Japanese nation, was the so-called yamato kotoba (大和言葉 or infrequently 大和詞, i.e. "Yamato words"), which in scholarly contexts is sometimes referred to as wago (和語 or rarely 倭語, i.e. the "Wa language"). In addition to words from this original language, present-day Japanese includes a number of words that were either borrowed from Chinese or constructed from Chinese roots following Chinese patterns. These words, known as kango (漢語), entered the language from the 5th century onwards via contact with Chinese culture. According to the Shinsen Kokugo Jiten(新選国語辞典) Japanese dictionary, kango comprise 49.1% of the total vocabulary, wago make up 33.8%, other foreign words or gairaigo (外来語) account...
Literacy was introduced to Japan in the form of the Chinese writing system, by way of Baekje before the 5th century. Using this language, the Japanese king Bu presented a petition to Emperor Shun of Liu Song in AD 478.[a] After the ruin of Baekje, Japan invited scholars from China to learn more of the Chinese writing system. Japanese emperors gave an official rank to Chinese scholars (続守言/薩弘格/[b][c] 袁晋卿[d]) and spread the use of Chinese characters from the 7th century to the 8th century. At f...
Hiragana are used for words without kanji representation, for words no longer written in kanji, and also following kanji to show conjugational endings. Because of the way verbs (and adjectives) in Japanese are conjugated, kanji alone cannot fully convey Japanese tense and mood, as kanji cannot be subject to variation when written without losing their meaning. For this reason, hiragana are appended to kanji to show verb and adjective conjugations. Hiragana used in this way are called okurigana...
Katakana, like hiragana, constitute a syllabary; katakana are primarily used to write foreign words, plant and animal names, and for emphasis. For example, "Australia" has been adapted as Ōsutoraria (オーストラリア), and "supermarket" has been adapted and shortened into sūpā (スーパー). Alexander Vovin argued that Japan's Katakana originated from the Gugyeol writing system used during the SillaDynasty. Yoshinori Kobayashi of Hiroshima University asserted the hypothesis that Katakana originated from Gugy...
Many major universities throughout the world provide Japanese language courses, and a number of secondary and even primary schools worldwide offer courses in the language. This is a significant increase from before World War II; in 1940, only 65 Americans not of Japanese descentwere able to read, write and understand the language. International interest in the Japanese language dates from the 19th century but has become more prevalent following Japan's economic bubble of the 1980s and the global popularity of Japanese popular culture (such as anime and video games) since the 1990s. As of 2015, more than 3.6 million people studied the language worldwide, primarily in East and Southeast Asia. Nearly one million Chinese, 745,000 Indonesians, 556,000 South Koreans and 357,000 Australians studied Japanese in lower and higher educational institutions. Between 2012 and 2015, considerable growth of learners originated in Australia (20.5%), Thailand (34.1%), Vietnam (38.7%) and the Philippin...Rudolf Lange, Christopher Noss (1903). A Text-book of Colloquial Japanese (English ed.). The Kaneko Press, North Japan College, Sendai: Methodist Publishing House. Retrieved 1 March 2012.Rudolf Lange (1903). Christopher Noss (ed.). A text-book of colloquial Japanese: based on the Lehrbuch der japanischen umgangssprache by Dr. Rudolf Lange (revised English ed.). Tokyo: Methodist pub...Rudolf Lange (1907). Christopher Noss (ed.). A text-book of colloquial Japanese (revised English ed.). Tokyo: Methodist publishing house. Retrieved 1 March 2012.