BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Bhagavad Gita

Anonymous


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


Fifty years of new Japan

by Shigenobu Ōkuma

Excerpt:

FIFTY YEARS OF NEW JAPAN

THE JAPANESE LANGUAGE

Katsuji Fujioka, Assistant-professor, Tokyo
Imperial University

Its Origin

The pride which a man takes in his mother tongue is confined neither to race nor to country, and the Japanese language, like others, has been lauded to Heaven by its devoted students, who assert its divine origin and its superiority over every other language in the world. But this very reverence has unfortunately impeded scientific inquiry, for we could not, holding these views, study impartially the relations between our native tongue and other languages.

But the advent of the M&ji era saw the necessity for such a research, especially as we were impelled thereto by the efforts of foreign inquirers ; so at last, in 1886, a course of comparative philology was provided in the Imperial University, which contributed not a little to the study of our mother tongue.

Foreigners had, before this, not been idle in their re- Klaproth searches. In 1820 Klaproth assigned the Japanese language Boiler— to the wide family of Ural-Altaic tongues. In 1857 Boiler Oralpublished the same opinion, and, considering that our lan- f^^_ guage bore a close resemblance to the North Samojedic North language, gave some concrete examples—a view which ^L^^edio found many advocates. Among these, Gabelentz dwelt on Aston the resemblance between Japanese and Manchurian, while and Aston scientifically compared the languages of Japan and Gabelentz" Korea, and made public the result of his study. Recently

vOL. n B

Lowell's
viewB
and the
advocates
of the
Indo-
Germanio
family.

(February 1906) a Russian savant, by name Pozdneyeff delivered a lecture in the Peers' Club in Tokyo on the kinship of our language and that of Mongolia, and explained how exactly alike were the post-positions of the two languages. All these views threw some light on the genealogy of our mother tongue. Though Lowell published his ' A Comparison of the Japanese and Burmese Languages' in 1891, while others assigned the parentage of the Japanese language to the IndoGermanic family, at present the advocates of the Ural-Altaic theory are gaining ground.

Nothing can as yet be said to have been satisfactorily proved, for many scholars still take divergent views, and the origin of our mother tongue must consequently be said to be an unknown quantity, although the probabilities point to the ultimate adoption of the Ural-Altaic theory.

Relationship with other tongues.

Relationship with Korean.

I.—From Prehistoric Periods To The End Of
The Heian Court

As it is impossible to ascertain the primitive form of our mother tongue without touching on its origin or genealogy, which is, at best, uncertain and obscure in the present stage of investigation, we must here rest content with enumerating the different views in regard to the kinship or relation that may exist between our tongue and the Korean, Chinese, and Ainu as well as the Sanskrit languages. We shall also consider how our language, since it became an independent one, has come under the influences of others, and what were the stages of its internal development, &c. It has always to be remembered that intercourse with China had a most remarkable effect upon the Japanese tongue. Chinese characters and Chinese books were freely introduced into Japan, syllabaries of the two kinds, kata-kana and hira-kana, were framed after ideographs, and Chinese words became mixed with the native vocabulary by thousands.


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