Talk:Classical Japanese language

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The change of the prenasalized consonants to voiced consonants[edit]

Between 900-1200 AD? The Ars Grammaticae Linguae Iaponicae, dated 1632, describes a Japanese that still retains prenasalized consonants (the author spells them with a tilde beforehand, e.g. Nãgasaqi) and they seem to be in place for some time after, though perhaps in the process of being lost (see, e.g., Lexicon Universale (1698) which shows both Yendo/Jendo and Jedo for Edo. [1] (and which also has NangazachumMuke Tever 14:40, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This articulation is retained to this day in some outlying regions. Perhaps he means the standard language. Although /g/ is a special case - intervocalic /g/ is (was? signs point towards loss of such articulation) pronounced [ŋ] in the Tokyo area. - 刘 (劉) 振霖 03:45, Jun 8, 2005 (UTC)

OJ did not have 8 vowels. Several of them are clearly in complementary distribution; if I remember correctly they can be reduced to 4 phonemes. (Part of the motivation for an 8-vowel system might be to make Japanese more compatible with Altaic languages.)
Also, what's the evidence for a shift from syllabic to moraic timing? kwami 07:31, 2005 July 14 (UTC)
I don't know, but is there really any difference between syllable-timing and mora-timing in a language with no long vowels and no closed syllables? In such a language, I would've thought every syllable would be monomoraic, so any change would be solely one of terminology and the statement empty. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 06:03, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Focus of article[edit]

The focus of this article is not clear. It defines the time period as Japanese spoken during the Heian period following Old Japanese. However, it then goes on to state that it was the standard for many centuries until around the Meiji Restoration. There are two separate topics being described here. One is the Japanese language as used during the Heian period; this is known as 中古日本語 in Japanese. The other is 文語, the written style initially based on Heian period style and used for many centuries. The English term "Classical Japanese" is a little ambiguous as it can refer to both usages depending on the context. How shall we handle this? Discuss both in this article? Separate the two into two separate articles? (And if so, what will the article names be?) Discussing phonology, grammar, and vocabulary for 文語 is rather pointless: there are numerous differences in each era. I would hope at the very least that the main focus of this article would be Heian period Japanese.

I have been working on the Old Japanese language page. Once I am satisfied with that, I had planned on doing the same for this page. My interests lie mainly with the Japanese of the Nara and Heian periods. And to some extent, I would like to add entries for 中世 and  近世 Japanese as well. I hope these issues can be resolved before more work is done here. Bendono 05:09, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

For an example of grammatical changes, please refer to Adjectival noun. I recently rewrote this page. Lumping all of Japanese from Heian through Edo will be very problematic. Bendono 05:14, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I am by no means an expert in this area, but I'd like to see this article brought up at least to the same standard as you (Bendono) have achieved in the Old Japanese article. This is pretty sad as it stands. --RJCraig 08:50, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
This article seriously lacks focus. It seems to want to be both 中古日本語 and 文語 at the same time (see above for details). Perhaps it is best to make this article be about 文語, the literary written language initially based on the Heian Period language which evolved and lasted for many centuries until the modern era. Heian Period Japanese can be made into a separate article: Late Old Japanese. In fact, I just did that. As a written literary style, not a language, I have removed the language template and placed it on the appropriate article.
Thank you for the kind remarks on Old Japanese. However, it is a little messy (especially the grammar section) and still incomplete. I really have not had as much free time to work on it as I would like. There will be updates, but please be patient. I will eventually get around to Early & Late Middle and Early Modern as well. Bendono 18:41, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I didn't want to cause a possible uproar by moving this to a new title, so I've set up a copy (introduction already edited a little, "weird" stuff placed in comments) for rewriting here. As per remarks elsewhere, I'm using "Literary Japanese" as the title for now. --RJCraig 08:18, 3 February 2007 (UTC)


On the Japanese WP the article 古文 is about an ancient style of script and is paired with English WP article Guwen. Gǔwén is the Mandarin Chinese reading of the same characters. However my understanding is that when Japanese highschoolers take a class in kobun they don't study a script but the classical literature of Japan. If one meaning of 古文 kobun is "Japanese classical literature" then it would be useful to say in this article that 文語 bungo is the language of 古文 kobun. At present there is no place on the English WP where the word 古文 kobun is defined. Contact Basemetal here 18:07, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

The definition of 古文 is pre-Meiji ja writings and it's a general term for old ja. See [2]. Documents written in Meiji to Showa in classical Japanese language is described as "written in 文語", never as "written in 古文". Do you understand the difference? Oda Mari (talk) 10:10, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
I do, thanks to you. The article being about 文語, the Meiji to Showa officialese, its title ought to be "Literary Japanese" or some such. "Classical" in English usage applies to the language of a classical literature. Cf. "Classical Arabic" vs. "Literary Arabic". Contact Basemetal here 17:05, 26 June 2014 (UTC)