Download An historical grammar of Japanese by G. B. Sansom PDF

By G. B. Sansom

First released in 1928, this path-breaking paintings remains to be of significance and curiosity to eastern students and linguists.

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Extra info for An historical grammar of Japanese

Example text

The name of this anthology was the Manyoshu, or 'Collection of a Myriad Leaves', and the characters thus used were known as Manyogana. In this work the order of words is Japanese, and though some characters are employed to represent meanings, there is very little difficulty in reconstructing the full Japanese text, because the admixture of kana is considerable and the metre serves as a guide to the number of syllables. Thus, if we take a line like j£ ^f -& H, we know from its position that it must contain seven syllables in Japanese.

By the end of the ninth century this style of writing was well developed and established in use. It must not be understood that it was universal, for the overwhelming prestige of the Chinese language and literature tended to discourage the use of Japanese in writing, except where there was some The great special reason for recording Japanese words. chronicle which followed shortly after the Kojiki, the 'Chronicles of Japan' (Nihongi), completed in a. d. 720, is written in Chinese, and makes no attempt to preserve Japanese constructions, except in the poems, which are written phonetically.

Requisite verbal forms, such as ron su, 'argues', ron shite, 'arguing', ron sezu, 'does not argue', &C. 1 In many cases, where the verb-group thus formed came into common use, Ron-suru is a its two members were closely amalgamated. case in point. Ron must have been among the first Chinese words known to the Japanese, for it is part of the title of one of the first Chinese books brought to Japan the Confucian Analects, called in Sino- Japanese Rongo and for the two separate elements ron and suru there was soon substituted the compound ronzuru, which was treated as a pure Japanese verb, and conjugated ronzu, ronji, ronjite, &c, ultimately furnishing a form ronjiru instead of ronzuru.

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