110

Several reasons: English pronunciation isn't easy Don't think that, just because you find it easy, most people in the world will; English pronunciation is actually quite complex by any measure. The language has something around 10 vowels (not counting diphthongs) and 44 phonemes; well above the average, and more than double Japanese's 5 vowels and 17 ...


21

Remember "isolate" doesn't mean "shown to be unrelated to any other language". It means "not shown to be related to any other language" (in a sufficiently convincing manner to establish a consensus). Basically, Korean is considered a language isolate because modern linguists expect relatedness to be demonstrated by showing there is a significant amount of ...


18

the problem is a bit in the framing of your question: "Why was korea able to remove kanji but japan wasn't when both languages use homophones?". i see two problems with this. firstly, all human language have homophones to a greater or lesser degree. it is true that Chinese and especially Japanese are somewhat internationally renowned for having big numbers ...


18

It must be remembered that in the Japanese language system, the lexeme's sound and the lexeme's spelling are much less correlated with each other than even in Chinese; the phenomenon of 訓読み kun'yomi means that one lexeme can be written with several different spellings (even if the spellings overlap in meaning). The most well known example for beginners is あう ...


18

Here's an answer from developmental psychology: When a baby is born they can natively pronounce phonemes of every language, but as they develop, their brains are constantly calculating and keeping track of which phonemes are more often said. This causes the baby to lose their ability to natively pronounce or even differentiate other phonemes except the ones ...


16

Yes, all of these cultures expect and use sorting pretty much just like alphabet-using cultures do. Japanese has a set of some 46 phonetic characters called kana. They're arranged by phonetics in a table of fixed order, called the 50 sounds table (gojūonzu), a descendant of Sanskrit phonetic tables. Textual data, glossaries, lists etc. are usually sorted ...


12

Apart from the three languages you named, I know of at least three additional major languages that have used the Chinese script; which are, Thai, Zhuang, and Mongolian. Several minor ones that have also used it include Miao, Yao, Bouyei, Kam, Bai, and Hani. Thai used to use the Chinese script until the 13th century, when it was abandoned in favor of an ...


11

Due to the study of Buddhism and its scriptures in the source language (either Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit or Pali) Japanese scholars were aware of the structure of the Indic scripts finally coming from the tradition of Sanskrit. When they created the Katakana they applied the ordering priciples of the Devanagari Script to it; the deviations (i.e., the ordering ...


10

This was too long for a comment, and I think it starts to go towards an answer, so I've posted it as such. Assumptions are, as I'm sure you're aware, often problematic. Modern Japanese, and to a lesser extent, Late Middle Japanese, are the odd men out when it comes to pronouns in Japonic languages. Old Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages have pronominal ...


10

Kun-readings are an orthographic notation for the native lexical stratum (Yamato-kotoba). So the underlying question is, are there native morphemes with closed syllables (that is, with a consonant at the end)? Originally, no; Old Japanese was a CV language (syllables started with a consonant and ended in a vowel). However, what are currently voiced ...


10

As you may know, "single" stops in Korean are weakly aspirated in initial position only (audio example), so Japanese stops in the unvoiced series (such as た) correspond to Korean "single" stops (e.g. ㄷ) in initial position. They are not perceived as ㅌ because the aspirated series in initial position in Korean is much more strongly ...


9

The similarity in sound is the result of two factors: overlapping phonetic inventories, and word length (which affects syllable duration). If you wanted to quantify the similarity, those would be the factors to focus on. The other part of "why" focuses not on what you are reacting to, but what causes the languages to be similar. The best explanation is that ...


8

According to 'A history of the Korean language' (p 271) the Korean subject particle ka is a recent development in that language, not being attested at all until the sixteenth century, and probably not in common use until the 18th century and thereafter. This means we can rule out the possibility that it is cognate with the Japanese ga (ie they are not ...


8

Fukui (1986) argues that the Japanese language is void of the functional determiner category and that the Japanese demonstratives “kono” (proximal “this”), “ano” (distal “that”) and “sono” (medial “that”) are actually prenominal modifiers in form. The Japanese demonstratives are lexical words, much like adjectives, as they do not close-off category ...


8

Of course it can be used to record lots of other languages and you can find the complete list here For Vietnamese a new type of script called chữ nôm based on Chinese characters is created. There are many ways to construct the new characters: Borrow the whole Chinese character and meaning with its Sino-Vietnamese reading. Sometimes it's also used to ...


8

Chinese gūlu < *kʰaːroːɡ is probably not onomatopoeic, especially if it came from (PIE) *kʷékʷlos "wheel" (related to English "circle") as Bauer suggests. Japanese guruguru "round and round" is standard onomatopoeic reduplication, like boroboro "old and tattered", wakuwaku "excited" etc. It's not very old ...


7

Yes as you speculate, when Chinese borrows a Japanese word, its pronunciation is often determined by the Chinese characters, no matter how it is pronounced in Japan. This results in loanwords that sound totally different, especially when they are native Japanese words, rather than Sino-Japanese words (i.e. Japanese-coined words that are made of Chinese-...


7

For Japanese at least, both happened: sometimes the characters are used semantically, others phonetically - either according to their Chinese pronunciation (which can come from either a Northern or Southern, earlier or recent form of Chinese) or to the Japanese reading. For instance, one of the Chinese readings of the char. "origin/beginning/birth" is "hon"....


7

As has been noted in the comments, [s] and [ɕ] (sometimes broadly transcribed as [ʃ]) are not in complementary distribution in Japanese. However, they can be analyzed as allophones of the same phoneme. The following rule can be used to explain some of the facts: /s/ --> [ɕ] before [i], [s] elsewhere [asa] 'morning' [ɕi] 'four' [aɕi] 'foot' [isu] 'chair' [...


6

Very few of the case markers you are asking about have any kind of an accepted etymology. Most of the time, it's because we just don't have any evidence to go on. Generally, they all share their functions and forms throughout the Japonic languages, so we have no real evidence to call them anything other than what they were, even going back to Proto-Japonic ...


6

Part of a theory of foreign pronunciation proceeds straightforwardly from David Stampe's theory Natural Phonology. Every natural language is phonetically difficult for a child, because many sounds tend to be changed into easier ones. A child's task is to learn not to let this happen for the languages he must learn to pronounce. See Stampe's article in CLS ...


6

The goal of the Hepburn system is to provide a more or less regular, unified system for writing Japanese using the Roman alphabet. Though superficially similar to English, it doesn't have to follow the particular rules of a specific language. This is most visible regarding the vowel system. Japanese vowels あ, い, う, え, お are spelled a, i, u, e, o in Hepburn; ...


6

The labelling of phonemes is fairly arbitrary: we say English has an /d/ phoneme, for example, but it may not ever be realized as a true perfect IPA [d]. Reconstructed languages often have phonemes not named after any IPA symbol, such as Proto-Indo-European's /*ǵ/ (what would it even mean to put a high-tone mark on a velar plosive?) or Proto-Slavic's /*ъ/ (...


6

"Multiple Nominative Constructions in Japanese and Their Theoretical Implications", by Masahiro AKIYAMA, indicates that in at least some Japanese sentences with multiple noun phrases marked by ga, both are subjects (p. 51). There is a syntactic analysis, but I don't know syntactic theory or notation, so I can't explain it. The second ga-marked noun phrase is ...


6

Many of the 外来語 gairaigo loanwords in Japanese are indeed from German, many of which date from the very late 19th century / early 20th century. アレルギー arerugī (note the long i at the end!!!) is attested in written form in 1910, alongside テーマ tēma from German Thema, and of the same epoch as カプセル kapuseru from German Kapsel.


5

"Particles" in Japanese are actually a fairly diverse class of words. Some things which are traditionally called particles are suffixes. For instance, the representative plural marker, -tachi is very closely bound to the noun it attaches to--not even core argument case markers like =ga or =o can interrupt it. Other things traditionally called particles, ...


5

The Japanese case marker =ga (a post-clitic), was not originally a subject marker. We can easily see this in the Ryūkyūan languages, related to Japanese, as well as historically attested forms. It's important to keep in mind that standard Japanese is actually fairly innovative when compared to other Japonic languages, both historical and modern. Originally, ...


5

Concerning discourse markers: Maynard, Senko (1993) "Discourse modality: Subjectivity, emotion and voice in the Japanese language" (John Benjamins Publishing Company) is seminal work. Newer work can be found in Onodera, Noriko O. (2004): Japanese Discourse Markers: Synchronic and Diachronic Discourse Analysis (John Benjamins Publishing). Check out the ...


5

One argument against the "Japanese does not have pronouns" thesis. Usually, the definition of "pronoun" refers to the function of the pronoun as a substitute for nouns and NPs, but it doesn't define its combinatorial possibilities. Some online dictionaries definitions: The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology (odlt.com): A word that ...


5

The OP focused on one peculiarity of Japanese pronouns: they can be qualified. One can note that in English 'me' rather than 'I' would be qualified and if there is any conjugation it will be in the 3rd person, whereas in Japanese the qualification would not thus disrupt the sentence. ('Mini me' and '20-years-old me' refer to another version of me, especially ...


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