Gaya language

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Native to Gaya Confederacy
Region Korea
Era 5th–7th centuries[1]
(Buyeo? Koreanic?)
    Language codes
    ISO 639-3 xpp
    Glottolog None
    Native to Gaya Confederacy
    Region Korea
    Era extinct 7th century
    Language codes
    ISO 639-3 pkc
    Glottolog paek1234[2]
    Three Kingdoms of Korea Map.png
    The Three Kingdoms of Korea, with Gaya in Pink.

    Gaya (伽耶語, 가야어), also rendered Kaya or Karak, is the presumed language of the Gaya confederacy in southern Korea. It is supposedly attested from thirteen toponyms, but it cannot be certain that these reflect the Gaya language itself rather than an earlier language.[3] Only one word survives that is directly identified as being from the language of the Gaya confederacy.


    The place names in question appear to be in a language related to Korean and Japanese. Beckwith classifies the Japonic family with toponymic pre-Kara as follows:[3] The linguistic scholar from South Korea, Jung Ho Wan, claimed that while it is only an assumption to say that Gaya's language, which is the only one left to this day, is similar to Japanese language, if the assumption is true, however, this suggests that not only Gaya's culture but also its language influenced the Yayoi who crossed over from the Korean Peninsula. [4]

    It is not clear if this "pre-Kara" was related to the language of the later Gaya confederacy, of which only four words survive.[5] In volume 34 of the Samguk Sagi, a note for the word 旃檀梁 states that, "In the Kaya language, 'gate' is called 梁." The Chinese character ⟨梁⟩ was used to write the Silla word for 'ridge', which was ancestral to Middle Korean 돌 *twol 'ridge', suggesting that the Gaya word for 'gate' may have been pronounced something like twol. This looks similar to Old Japanese *two/ (門/戸) (modern Japanese to, ), meaning 'door, gate'.[5][6][7]

    The apparently Japonic identity of the Kara toponyms constitutes part of the evidence for the Japanese–Koguryoic hypothesis. However, the Koguryo (Goguryeo) languages themselves came from further north; they may have been ancestral to Korean and replaced Japonic languages in southern Korea.[citation needed] As Gaya grew out of one of the Samhan nations, it may be that the Goguryeo-derived languages of Silla and of the Baekje elite were related to Korean, while the indigenous Samhan language of Baekje was related to (pre-)Gaya and Japanese.[citation needed]


    The name Gaya is Korean, from the modern transcription 加耶 (伽倻). However, it was difficult to render the phonological shape of words in the languages of Korea by the use of Chinese characters, since hangul had not yet been invented, and thus a variety of historical forms are attested. (See Gaya confederacy.) Generally Gaya was transcribed as Kaya (加耶) or Karak (伽落), but the transcription in the oldest sources is Kara (加羅), and philological reconstruction points towards MC *kayia, from Ancient Chinese *kala = *kara.[3] Beckwith considers the pronunciation [kaɾa] "certain",[8] so the language is also known as Kara, for example in Ethnologue.


    1. ^ Gaya at MultiTree on the Linguist List
    2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Gaya". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
    3. ^ a b c Beckwith, Christopher (2007). Koguryo, the Language of Japan's Continental Relatives. pp. 27–28. 
    4. ^ 가야의 언어와 문화 2007년 06월 27일 출간
    5. ^ a b Christopher I. Beckwith, Koguryo, BRILL 2007 p.40.
    6. ^ Martine Irma Robbeets, [Is Japanese Related to Korean, Tungusic, Mongolic and Turkic?,] Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005 p.867 n.203.
    7. ^ Lee, Ki-Moon; Ramsey, S. Robert (2011). A History of the Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. p. §2.3.4, p.47. 
    8. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2.