Early Modern Japanese

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Early Modern Japanese
近世日本語
RegionJapan
EraEvolved into Modern Japanese in the mid-19th century
Japonic
Early forms
Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji
Language codes
ISO 639-3
GlottologNone

Early Modern Japanese (近世日本語, kinsei nihongo) was the stage of the Japanese language after Middle Japanese and before Modern Japanese.[1] It is a period of transition that shed many of the language's medieval characteristics and became closer to its modern form.

The period spanned roughly 250 years and extended from the 17th century to the first half of the 19th century. Politically, it generally corresponded to the Edo period.

Background[edit]

At the beginning of the 17th century, the center of government moved to Edo from Kamigata under the control of the Tokugawa shogunate. Until the early Edo period, the Kamigata dialect, the ancestor of the modern Kansai dialect, was the most influential dialect. However, in the late Edo period, the Edo dialect, the ancestor of the modern Tokyo dialect, became the most influential dialect, and Japan closed its borders to foreigners. Compared to the previous centuries, the Tokugawa rule brought about much newfound stability. That made the importance of the warrior class gradually fall and replaced it with the merchant class. There was much economic growth, and new forms of artistic developments appeared, such as Ukiyo-e, Kabuki, and Bunraku. That included new literary genres such as Ukiyozōshi, Sharebon (pleasure districts), Kokkeibon (commoners), and Ninjōbon developed. Major authors included Ihara Saikaku, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, Matsuo Bashō, Shikitei Sanba, and Santō Kyōden.

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Middle Japanese had the following consonants:

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Stop p  b t  d     k  ɡ    
Affricate   t͡s  d͡z t͡ʃ  d͡ʒ        
Nasal m n       ɴ  
Fricative ɸ s  z ɕ ç     h
Liquid     r        
Approximant       j ɰ    

/t, s, z, h/ all have a number of allophones before the high vowels [i, ɯ]:

  • t → t͡ʃ / __i
  • t → t͡s / __ɯ
  • z → d͡ʒ / __i
  • z → d͡z / __ɯ
  • h → ç / __i
  • h → ɸ / __ɯ

Several major developments occurred:

  • /zi, di/ and /zu, du/, respectively, no longer contrasted.
  • /h/ partially developed from [ɸ] into [h, ç].
  • /se/ lost its palatalization and became [se].

Middle Japanese had a syllable final -t, which was gradually replaced by the open syllable /tu/.

Labialization[edit]

The labial /kwa, gwa/ merged with their non-labial counterparts into [ka, ga].[2]

Palatalization[edit]

The consonants /s, z/, /t/, /n/, /h, b/, /p/, /m/, and /r/ could be palatalized.

Depalatalization could also be seen in the Edo dialect:

  • hyakunin issyu > hyakunisi
  • /teisyu/ > /teisi/ "lord"
  • /zyumyoː/ > /zimyoː/ "life"

Prenasalization[edit]

Middle Japanese had a series of prenasalized voiced plosives and fricatives: [ŋɡ, ⁿz, ⁿd, ᵐb]. In Early Modern Japanese, they lost their prenasalization, which resulted in ɡ, z, d, b.

Grammar[edit]

Verbs[edit]

Early Modern Japanese has five verbal conjugations:

Verb Class Irrealis
未然形
Adverbial
連用形
Conclusive
終止形
Attributive
連体形
Hypothetical
仮定形
Imperative
命令形
Quadrigrade (四段) -a -i -u -u -e -e
Upper Monograde(上一段) -i -i -iru -iru -ire -i(yo, ro)
Lower Monograde (下一段) -e -e -eru -eru -ere -e(yo, ro)
K-irregular (カ変) -o -i -uru -uru -ure -oi
S-irregular (サ変) -e, -a, -i -i -uru -uru -ure -ei, -iro

As had already begun in Middle Japanese, the verbal morphology system continued to evolve. The total number of verb classes was reduced from nine to five. Specifically, the r-irregular and n-irregular regularized as quadrigrade, and the upper and lower bigrade classes merged with their respective monograde. That left the quadrigrade, upper monograde, lower monograde, k-irregular, and s-irregular.[3]

Adjectives[edit]

There were two types of adjectives: regular adjectives and adjectival nouns.

Historically, adjective were subdivided into two classes: those whose adverbial form ended in -ku and those that ended in –siku. That distinction was lost in Early Modern Japanese.

Irrealis
未然形
Adverbial
連用形
Conclusive
終止形
Attributive
連体形
Hypothetical
仮定形
Imperative
命令形
-kara -ku -i -i -kere -kare

Historically, the adjectival noun was sub-divided into two categories: -nar and -tar. In Early Modern Japanese, -tar vanished and left only -na.

Irrealis
未然形
Adverbial
連用形
Conclusive
終止形
Attributive
連体形
Hypothetical
仮定形
Imperative
命令形
-da ra -ni
-de
-na
-da
-na -nare
-nara
 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shibatani (1990: 119)
  2. ^ Yamamoto (1997: 147-148)
  3. ^ Yamaguchi (1997:129)

References[edit]

  • Kondō, Yasuhiro; Masayuki Tsukimoto; Katsumi Sugiura (2005). Nihongo no Rekishi (in Japanese). Hōsō Daigaku Kyōiku Shinkōkai. ISBN 4-595-30547-8.
  • Martin, Samuel E. (1987). The Japanese Language Through Time. Yale University. ISBN 0-300-03729-5.
  • Matsumura, Akira (1971). Nihon Bunpō Daijiten (in Japanese). Meiji Shoin. ISBN 4-6254-0055-4.
  • Miyake, Marc Hideo (2003). Old Japanese : a phonetic reconstruction. London; New York: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-415-30575-6.
  • Nakata, Norio (1972). Kōza Kokugoshi: Dai 2 kan: On'inshi, Mojishi (in Japanese). Taishūkan Shoten.
  • Shibatani, Masayoshi (1990). The Languages of Japan. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36918-5.
  • Yamaguchi, Akiho; Hideo Suzuki; Ryūzō Sakanashi; Masayuki Tsukimoto (1997). Nihongo no Rekishi (in Japanese). Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai. ISBN 4-13-082004-4.