New PDF release: An historical grammar of Japanese

By G. B. Sansom

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

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Sample text

It must first be reiterated that archaic Japanese was a polysyllabic language, consisting of uninflected substantives, highly inflected verbs and adjectives, and a large number of ; 16 HISTORICAL JAPANESE GRAMMAR — agglutinative suffixes and particles a language markedly synthetic in character, and thus the opposite in almost every respect of Chinese, which is monosyllabic, uninflected, and analytic. Further, the task before the compiler of the Kojiki was unlike that of the scribes who had to record foreign sounds by means of Chinese symbols, in that his object was to assign symbols to both sounds and meanings in his own language.

The above example will have sufficed to show that at least some readings are doubtful, and that therefore, without special indications (which, as we shall presently see, exist in some cases), the text of the Kojiki cannot provide evidence as to the vocabulary and forms of archaic Japanese. After the above words, which may be translated 'Therefore they descended again', the passage continues as follows It is gives : 1. H ' 1 to a^i'u HISTORICAL JAPANESE GRAMMAR 18 I. INTRODUCTION OF WRITING 19 the phonetic reproduction of Sanskrit words from Buddhist texts, which has been described above.

Which is a cursive form of the whole character g. As might be expected, the convenience of these syllabaries encouraged the use of what we have called the Mixed Phonetic Script (Kanamajiri) and this has now after certain vicissitudes come to be the normal script for representing Japanese, employed in all printed and manuscript documents. The admixture of kana varies according to the writer and to the literacy which he expects from his reader. There is no general rule, but the method may be roughly described ' .

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An historical grammar of Japanese by G. B. Sansom


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