Talk:Japonic languages

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Origins[edit]

The Origins section notes the following:

Japonic languages are related to modern Korean based primarily on near-identical grammar, but there is scarce lexical similarity between the two; supporters of the Buyeo languages theory generally do not include modern Korean as part of that family.

However, as I point out in the Classification section of the Japanese language Talk page, the first half of this statement displays faulty logic, and the second contradicts several other pages, notably the Korean language page, and the Buyeo languages page, among others. The logical flaw lies in that finding the grammars of any two languages to be similar, or even identical, does not prove relatedness but instead only proves similarity. This is not to say that Korean and Japanese are not related -- I personally hold the view that they spring from common ancestry, given my time spent studying the Japanese and Korean langauges and the history of East Asia. But in terms of making a solid point here on this page, one must look into the histories and linguistics of the two languages to say anything definitive about relatedness.

As to the other Wikipedia pages, I am no expert on the history of the Korean peninsula or language, but what I've read outside of Wikipedia does seem to back up the view that Samhan, Silla, Goguryeo, Gojoseon, and Buyeo are all related.

The Japonic languages page itself contains no citation of any verifiable source for the above quoted statement. Given the logical flaw and the contradictory views on other more extensively footnoted pages, I am inclined to think that this statement here is mistaken. Looking back at the page history, I find that Gilgamesh was the one to add this material. I would very much appreciate it if Gilgamesh or anyone else would be so kind as to add a source for this view, not least in that it would make this page and Wikipedia in general that much more useful for research. Without any such source, my personal feeling is that this page should be changed to be more in line with the other related pages. What do others think?

Thank you, Eiríkr Útlendi 23:17, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Another bit from Origins:

As far as lexical studies have shown, the modern living non-Japonic language with the closest lexical similarity to any of the Japonic languages is Uyghur, a Turkic language.
In the wake of these theories, some argue that the similarity between all these languages is merely a sprachbund, and that the attested similarities between some or all of these languages are simply the result of their cultures being close geographic neighbors on the Asian mainland over the course of millennia.

I'm no expert on this subject, but certainly at the present time Japanese and Uyghur are nowhere near each other. I think this subject needs at least a little clarification on where/when such contact would have taken place, e.g. migration theories, reference to other languages that might be more likely to have had contact with proto-Japonic speakers, or links to other articles about them. KarlM 10:47, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Terminology[edit]

User:Cibeckwith claims that Japonic languages is a disputed term an proposes Japanese-Ryukyuan languages instead. I have during my academic career never stumbled upon the latter term and it seems IMHO quite unwieldy. Could an expert on this subject please clear up the confusion? --Himasaram 08:01, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Actually, User:Cibeckwith is an expert on this subject. Please correspond with him personally if you have any dissatisfaction with the nomenclature. For the time being, I am going to remove the unsightly "attention needed" template from the main page, because this article is actually very accurate as it stands, although it is rather bare-boned. Ebizur 00:42, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Both are used. I personally prefer Japonic because it is shorter. It seems better to choose less node-based names for language families in case the classification is reorganized in the future or if varieties that were previously regarded as smaller subnodes are moved up to a higher position, the name is still relevant. --Node 13:58, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Finnish[edit]

The language ofthe Finns is related to Japanese last I heard.Tourskin 22:50, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

No, this is pseudoscientific nonsense. Please see Pseudoscientific language comparison.--AAikio 08:42, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, not trying to insult any one here, thats what my History teacher told me. Well he was wrong on a lot of things. Tourskin 22:13, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry for the edgy comment, didn't take it as an insult... It's just that there are a lot of wild theories of the origin of Japanese around, and in general most of them are not really worth taking into account in a linguistic article. --AAikio 06:26, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
See Ural-Altaic languages, a controversial theory. If valid, the languages are very distantly related, probably comparable to English' relationship to Sanskrit or Hittite, or even further. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 14:41, 21 August 2007 (UTC)


Japanoic/Ryukuan language with consonants in coda?[edit]

Hi guys, I'm wondering if this is true; I heard that one of the Japonic, I think it's a Ryukuan langauge, which uses consonants other than /n/ in coda. I could've swore I read it in Wikipedia before. Could someone verify this for me? I think it's one of the smaller ones, but finding out if this is true or if I dreamt it would be really useful. I posted this on the category section by mistake, so I've put the same question here hoping it'll get more hits. InnocentOdion 14:36, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

The Miyako language of the Miyako Island group and some dialects spoken in the area of Kagoshima Prefecture on Kyushu allow consonants other than /N/ in the coda of a syllable. Ebizur (talk) 16:48, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

About Ainu languages?[edit]

Some one can talk about it...why Ainu languages not expressely mentioned.

Ainu languages, Ainu people, this people is native in Japan, the true Japanese.

Marcio Benvenuto de Lima (talk) 07:39, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Simple. They are not Japonic. — kwami (talk) 09:12, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

classification[edit]

We have an ongoing edit war across several articles re. Japonic classification, with editors who won't bother to discuss their edits. Both editors are wrong in some respects. Japonic is often identified as Altaic by Altaicists. In fact, I've heard (though don't know myself) that most Altaicists accept Japanese, which would imply that the inclusion of Japanese is only somewhat more uncertain than the validity of Altaic as a whole. However, Japonic has not been demonstrated to be Altaic, and such classifications clearly remain controversial. On the other hand, it clearly is not an isolate: language isolates are languages; as soon as you have a family, you no longer have an isolate. I mean, we wouldn't say that Indo-European is "a language isolate (or possibly related to Uralic)". It is only considered an isolate when treated as a single language. Japanese generally was considered an isolate half a century ago (and AFAIK the Altaic theory is still a minority POV), but recent classifications have generally treated it as a small Japonic family.

Can we actually discuss these changes? The alternatives are that I edit-protect all the articles you are reverting each other on, which may mean that I protect them at a version that you disagree with, or that I block the both of you for disruption. (On further investigation, I might block only one of you, but don't count on it.) kwami (talk) 16:39, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Protected[edit]

I've indefinitely protected the following articles which are involved in this pathetic edit war: Japonic languages, Japanese people, Altaic languages, and Classification of Japanese. Other articles may be added to this list as well if this edit warring does not stop. Please discuss whatever issues you may have and come to some sort of consensus. Once you have done so, we can look at making the article editable again. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 20:18, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Remove protection and fix link![edit]

link broken, here's the right one: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=1721-16

--Sigmundur (talk) 18:45, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

The protection has not been removed as there has been no discussion as far as I can tell. However, I have updated the link as requested. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 19:05, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
The protection on this page is inhibiting constructive editing. It's been over 5 months. Isolated incidents of edit warring, and persistent edit warring by particular users, may be better addressed by blocking, so as not to prevent normal editing of the page by others. I have no part in this edit war. -ZacBowling (user|talk) 04:14, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Tanegashima and Yakushima dialects[edit]

These dialects are classified in Satsugū dialect(ja:薩隅方言), not in Amami language(ja:奄美方言). 安室黎 (talk) 08:30, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

Classification as an Altaic language[edit]

The classification of the Japonic languages (and Korean) as Altaic languages is hardly an accepted matter. A tiny footnote about "Not always recognized as Altaic languages" is hardly NPOV when most linguists reject this classification and many reject even the existence of an Altaic language family. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.175.220.149 (talk) 16:07, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

  • Do you have sources showing this? WhisperToMe (talk) 03:19, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
This again? I thought this had been put to bed a long time ago. Taivo - are you out there? I hereby grant you a permit from the United Nations to keeel this on the spot, whenever it occurs!  :-) Seriously, Whisper, even I as a historian have seen the (RS) statements that the majority of linguists reject the Altaic hypothesis for Japanese, or Korean for that matter. Incredible how this just keeps sprouting back up on Wiki articles like a weed. HammerFilmFan (talk) 01:57, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
The complaint seems to have nothing to do with the article. — kwami (talk) 07:58, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Kaya toponyms?[edit]

Why, in the first part of the article, is Japonic given reference to Kaya over all the other major hypotheses such as Altaic, Koguryoic, Austronesian, and all the mishmashes between those? There is not a single piece of evidence proposed by any linguist that relates Japonic to a Kaya language. The Kaya confederacy was founded way after Japonic was already established in the Japanese archipelago. The reference to Beckwith's book is flawed, too, as the page does not mention anything about toponyms in Kaya, nor does it indicate any connection between Japonic and the Kaya language. This part should definitely be removed. Ramentei (talk) 03:07, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

On the Classification page you objected because it's *only* proposed by Beckwith; here you claim there is no such proposal. — kwami (talk) 06:40, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Maybe you should read page 105 of Beckwith's book again. He mentions the Kara (Gaya) in relation to Japonic but doesn't offer any evidence or even imply that the two are related. If there is anyone else or any other writings of Beckwith that proposes a rigorous hypothesis relating Japanese to the Kaya language for its origins that has equal or greater standing with the Altaic and Austronesian theories (possibly even Koguryoic) for which there have been numerous writings and suggested cognates, then please enlighten me as I'm more than interested in new developments regarding the origins of Japonic. I'm just trying to help make the article more accurate, but I will stop editing if that disturbs you. Including a Gaya connection among the most attested origins of Japonic is just ludicrous to me. As I said I will stop editing but I will keep making constructive contributions on the "talk" pages. Hopefully both pages can be changed to something that is more complete, neutral and accurate. Ramentei (talk) 06:55, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

I suggest the Gaya part to be deleted, at least in the map with the (?). What is the justification for it? Also as someone has already pointed it out, Japonic cannot be an isolate. That is a basic linguistic error, and correction is long overdue. Something like "Possibly a branch of Altaic" would be more appropriate. Ramentei (talk) 08:03, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, "isolate" is an odd word for a family. It's a holdover from when it was considered a single language. You can do this with most isolates: Tarascan, for example, as a small family rather than a single Purhepecha language. If you count Jeju as a separate language, then Korean is no longer an isolate, etc. And of course Ainu was perhaps a family not unlike Japonic, but is still commonly called an isolate (though in that case only one variety survives.) But the classification itself (or lack of one) hasn't changed in any of these cases. I removed the word 'isolate', but in the past this has caused problems with those who vehemently reject the Altaic theory. Perhaps you can think of better wording?
He may not imply this on p 105, but he does on p 28. Or at least with "pre-Kara", which he says cannot be demonstrably related to Gaya-era Gaya. Though he did include pre-Kara within Japonic, so yes, Gaya (if descended from pre-Kara) wouldn't count as a nearest relative. It would however still be the clearest connection outside what is generally recognized as Japanese. The toponymic material is widely recognized as being apparently related to Japanese. The main problem seems to be in identifying what the language of that material was, as reflected in B's hedging over whether it was Gaya or not.
I can certainly see ranking the proposals per level of acceptance, in which case Altaic is probably at the top. Austronesian was removed some time ago as not being accepted, but as you note, Dravidian is mentioned and I don't think there is any credible proposal for that. We could did Austronesian out of the article history. So maybe s.t. like (1) Altaic, (2) Korean, (3) Koguryoic [these three geographically connected], (4) Austronesian, (5) crackpot (Dravidian, etc.). Nostratic/Eurasiatic could be mentioned under (1), since they just break up Altaic within a larger proposal. — kwami (talk) 16:11, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

I see the rationale behind the "isolate", I guess, as there are still many Japanese people who think that Ryukyuan is a dialect. Can you elaborate on how an "isolate" would cause problems with vehement anti-Altaicists? It would seem that an "isolate" would be a more favourable expression for their case? Can you please refer me to some sources about the Gaya toponymic material? Last I read was that there were 13 toponyms, for which scholar's aren't even sure whether it's a Gaya language or an older language. That is why I was quite strongly opposed to Gaya having a mention, as 13 toponyms of unknown identity surely cannot be described as the front-runner for the relative or ancestor of the Japanese language. Are there more toponyms found and have they been deciphered to have some strong cognates and sound-correspondence to native Japanese words? I don't think B's recent book has much value in formulating linguistic connections as the whole book is more about history rather than about languages. His previous book about Koguryoic, however, contains substantial linguistic material and can be used as a valid source for articles relating to Japanese and other languages, regardless of what I or others think of the content ;) I completely agree with your ranking. Personally I would have Austronesian higher up, and also because the creole hypothesis is still very strong among the Japanese scholarly community, but since it's has a lot of skepticism among scholars outside of Japan and the Korean and Koguryoic hypotheses are both related in some capacity to the Altaic hypothesis, I think your ranking it very reasonable. "Crackpot" might be a bit harsh on Dravidian, Susumu Ono was a very well renowned Scholar on the Japanese language, but unfortunately ventured into comparative linguistics without much knowledge in that field. His works are, nevertheless, the only attempts to seek answers for the apparent lack of cognates in words relating to agriculture among East Asian languages. It was a genuine attempt, but a failed one. I think the Japanese version of the article is very sound, the only quibble being that they give too much weight to Dravidian. Ramentei (talk) 03:31, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

It's removing the word "isolate" that has caused problems with anti-Altaicists.
I don't know how many toponyms there are. Several of them seem to be transparently Japonic.
Yes, as I said, it's "pre-Kara/Gaya" that's the toponymic material, with too little to link it to Kara/Gaya proper. We could change Kara/Gaya to "pre-Kara/Gaya", to clarify that, though the link would probably be a rd. to the same article. — kwami (talk) 04:15, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but I'm still not convinced that the Gaya/Kara hypothesis has any credibility. If, as you say, several of the toponyms are considered to be clearly Japonic, it needs to be stated clearly which toponyms and how it is perceived to be Japonic i.e. how it cognates to OJ vocabulary. There's not enough written about Gaya/Kara's linguistic relationship to Japanese compared to Altaic, so if it or the pre-language is to be stated as a highly possible relative to Japonic, then I strongly think that all the cards need to be laid on the table, in a similar way examples of possible cognates are given for the Korean and Altaic hypotheses. Otherwise I don't see how it has any more credibility than Dravidian. Ramentei (talk) 06:29, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

For our purposes, credibility does not depend on whether you accept it, but on whether our sources support it. They do. (Even some of those which dispute the Koguryoic hypothesis acknowledge that the toponyms are Japonic.) We don't need to lay out the evidence for your evaluation. That would violate WP:OR. However, if you wish to expand the coverage, you of course may. — kwami (talk) 09:01, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

I'm not asking you to lay out the evidence for MY evaluation, but for the readers, or at least refer a better source that explicitly gives Kara toponyms. Beckwith gives numerous examples of Koguryoic toponyms that may relate to Japanese but where are the references to the Kara toponyms? Especially on the classification artical, the part about Kara gives no sources for reference at all. If the Altaic and Korean sections can give a substatial list of vaguely similar words, why can't the same to done for Kara, since you (or whoever included the Kara stuff) claim that it is the closest attested language to Japonic? Ramentei (talk) 03:10, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Also if what you say here is true: "Even some of those which dispute the Koguryoic hypothesis acknowledge that the toponyms are Japonic." then why not list those sources? That would adequately show readers that Kara is a reasonably well-reasoned hypothesis. So far I only see p.105 of B's latest book referred in either article, for which I quite clearly showed that the page does not suggest a Kara-Japonic linguistic connection. And listing the Kara hypothesis is all fine, but statements like "has the most currency" "clearest connections" is completely subjective and unfit for a wiki article, when they are so many competing theories out there. Ramentei (talk) 03:22, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

That would require going back to sources I no longer have access to.
If pre-Kara is closer to Japanese than Ryukyuan is, then it is obviously closer than Korean or any other language is.
I don't understand what you mean by "does not support". Again, it's not generally for us to second-guess our sources; that would be OR. — kwami (talk) 09:03, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Well, since the assertion that Gaya/Kara is related to Japonic depends on those sources, they must be available to all readers. If they cannot be provided, statements that presume that Gaya/Kara relationship to Japonic is a solid hypothesis should not be made. I actually think the way you have organised the Kara-language article is much better. It explicitly states that it is what Beckwith proposes, rather than taking for granted that it is the strongest hypothesis concerning Japonic relatives.

Comparing it to Ryukyuan is meaningless, since Ryukyuan probably did not exist in Pre-kara times. The divergence and geographic isolation for centuries has given birth to massive differences now, but Old Ryukyuan could well be very similar to Old Japanese. I think it's worth considering that there aren't any other linguists who are writing anything of note regarding Japonic and Kara. On the Kara language page listing all Beckwith is ok as he is the sole source, but on a page dealing with one of biggest and the most controversial topics in the history of linguistics, putting forth a theory supported by only one person as the most well attested and with poor referencing needs to be reconsidered. What you believe or how well you know the sources that you can no longer access is not the point. The "clearest connections" or the theory with the "most currency" needs to be something that the a large portion of the linguistic community agrees on.

As for p.105 in B's latest book, it says “The one area that seems to have escaped the nation building of the Puyo-Koguryo people, as well as the influence of their language, was the realm of former Pyon Han, in the central part of the south coast of the Korean Peninsula. It became known as Kara, or Minama, and never achieved political equality with the other kingdoms of the peninsula. Little is known about Kara, but it was under heavy Japanese influence and at time was a Japanese tributary state, if not an outright colony.”(Beckwith, 2009) That is all it says about Kara on that page, and nothing about its linguistic affiliation to Japonic, so I fail to see how that serves as a reference for the statement: "The clearest connections seem to be with toponyms in southern Korea which may be in Gaya (Kara) or other scarcely attested languages." Ramentei (talk) 08:59, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

"they must be available to all readers". No, that's not how things work here. We don't need to republish the sources, just cite them.
I've already agreed that other hypotheses are more widely accepted.
I think you're looking at a different book. B. clearly shows pre-Kara as being closer to Japanese than Ryukyuan is. — kwami (talk) 16:37, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

I apologise, I missed the p.27-28 of the other book being cited further below. But the part I quoted is definitely from p.105 from "Empires of the Silk Road". And the citation is slightly dubious. It does help that it is adequately backed up later. I agree, they just need to be cited, which I mistakenly thought was not done sufficiently. As for how strong or "clearly shown" B's theories are, I don't think we will ever come to an agreement so I rest my case here. Ramentei (talk) 22:41, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

I haven't really read B's stuff (or heard him speak) for some time, and he's changed his position since I have. When he was first proposing this, it was as evidence that Koguryo was the closest relative to Japonic. His position has now shifted to toponymic evidence that Japonic was once spoken in Korea, without claiming that this was in any known language. Much of the criticism of B's earlier work was that the links between these Japonic-looking toponyms and Koguryoic were spurious, and B has evidently accepted this by abandoning that part of his proposal. But I don't recall anyone ever denying that the toponyms do indeed appear to be close to Japonic: they only denied that those toponyms could be Koguryoic. (Not to say that there aren't people who deny both.) — kwami (talk) 02:16, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it's not only Beckwith but linguists haven't been speaking much at all about Japonic for some time. B's list of Koguryoic toponyms don't look Japonic at all to me. The cognates he proposes with Japanese words show poor sound correspondence and the two words have significant gap in meaning that chance resemblance is hard to rule out. It is not much better than the Altaic correspondences proposed by the likes of Miller and Robbeets. I know the yapma-yama "cognate" (Beckwith 2007, p.121) has been sharply criticised as many believe the archaic for to be "dama", as shown in some Ryukyuan languages. However, in B's defense, there is no way of conclusively telling whether the "d" or the "y" is archaic in Proto-J, and in OJ voiced consonants don't appear in word initials. But his other examples, for instance, show too many CVC or VC stems, which are not features of Japonic. That is the big problem I have with the Altaic hypothesis as well. In Mandarin Chinese, for example, that doesn't have C endings, the vowels are very complex and can be clearly compared with various dialects to see how a -k or a -t ending developed into a compound vowel. In Japanese, however, the vowel system is so simple and that I don't see how all the C ending stems in Altaic could produce a standard 5 vowel language with such simple phonology, if they are closely related languages. Sorry I've gone off topic a bit here. Ramentei (talk) 10:07, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Japanese could easily have lost final consonants (Austronesian substratum influence??) without affecting the vowels—that happens all the time, & such typological characteristics are not a good argument for relatedness (witness Austronesian itself). This is, however, hard to square with pre-Kara falling within Japonic. The pre-Kara comparisons include grammatical particles. And *y → d is a Yonaguni innovation postdating Chinese loans, which underwent *y → d as well. — kwami (talk) 16:29, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

You are right, Japanese could have lost final consonants or added vowels to final consonants as well, like they do to European loan words of recent times. But as indicated by those recent loans, such radical shifts in pronunciation is more likely due to loaning rather than relatedness (divergence). B also lists Okog "atsin" (poor) as cognate with OJ "ashi" (bad, evil) (p.121), but the "shi" in OJ is a grammar affix for adjectives, so there is no way it cognates with "sin". There are other examples where B proposes cognates with OJ adjectives for Okog words that have "si" without the nasal ending. This clearly violates sound correspondence without adequate explanation for exceptions. Austronesian substratum influence is possible, but as there is no evidence of Austronesian contact around the time of influence from the Korean peninsula, that would mean that a Austronesian language was spoken in Japan for quite some time and right into the Yayoi period. Not completely implausible, but that would raise the argument of which is the super and which is the substratum. I agree that the grammar particles that supposedly cognate with pre-Kara, and some Koguryoic ones as well, are some of the better evidence. Ramentei (talk) 03:40, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Classification yet again[edit]

How come that Korean language is listed as isolate, while Japonic languages are listed as Altaic, at least colour wise? Is that NPOV? The common view is that there are not conclusive evidence of genealogical relations between Japanese and Korean, let alone Japanese and classic Altaic languages: that's the equivalent of isolate (=unknown family relation) until better proofs are found. Moreover, prominent Korean language experts, even sympathetic toward the Altaic theory like Ki-Moon Lee (2011), have not yet found conclusive proves of genealogical links between Japanese and Korean and they are still very much open to the debate. The Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World edited by Elseviere (2006) considers Japanese as an isolated language, as well as Korean. 84.222.239.177 (talk) 18:26, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

It's due to people editing one article but not the other. — kwami (talk) 20:18, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
It looks like an edit war between mules, to say the truth... – 84.222.239.177 (talk) 21:12, 26 September 2012 (UTC)