A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese (2 vols)

Revised, Updated and Enlarged Second Edition


Author: Alexander Vovin
This is the revised, updated and enlarged second edition of the first detailed descriptive grammar in English (indeed, in any language other than Japanese and more complete than even any grammar in Japanese) dedicated to the Western Old Japanese, which was spoken in the Kansai region of Japan during the seventh and eighth centuries. The grammar is divided into two volumes, with the first volume dealing with sources, script, phonology, lexicon, nominals and adjectives. The second volume focuses on verbs, adverbs, particles, conjunctions and interjections. In addition to descriptive data, the grammar also includes comparisons between Western Old Japanese and Eastern Old Japanese and Ryukyuan, occasionally with a critical analysis of various external parallels.

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Alexander Vovin, currently Directeur d’études in Japanese and Inner Asian historical linguistics, an elected member of the Academia Europaea and a Laureate of 2015 prize of Japan’s National Institute for Humanities (Centre des recherches linguistiques sur l’Asie orientale), has published extensively on Japanese, Ainu, Korean, Mongolian and Tungusic, as well as other languages of East and Inner Asia. Among his major works are A Reconstruction of Proto-Ainu (Brill, 1993), A Reference Grammar of Classical Japanese Prose (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), Nihongo Keitōron no Genzai/Perspectives on the Origins of the Japanese Language (co-edited with Osada Toshiki, the International Center for Japanese Studies, Kyōto, 2003), Koreo-Japonica (University of Hawai’i Press, 2010), A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese, vol. 1-2 (Global Oriental 2005, 2009, second edition Brill 2020), and a multivolume edition and translation of the Man’yōshū, the first and the largest Japanese poetical anthology (Global Oriental/Brill, 2009). Most recently he has deciphered (together with Dieter Maue) two Mongolian inscriptions that predate the other extant Mongolian texts by at least 600 years ( Journal Asiatique 306.2 and 307.1 (2018-19), The International Journal of Eurasian Linguistics 1.1 (2019)).
List of Charts

Chapter 1: Sources and Previous Scholarship

1 Sources

2 Previous Scholarship

Chapter 2: Script and Phonology

1 Script
 1.1 Syllabic Script
 1.2 Rebus Writing

2 Phonetics and Phonology
 2.1 Consonants
 2.2 Vowels
 2.3 Pitch Accent
 2.4 Phonotactics
 2.5 Morphophonological Processes

Chapter 3: Lexicon

1 Naturalized Loanwords from Ainu

2 Naturalized Loanwords from Korean

3 Naturalized Loanwords from Old and Middle Chinese

4 Loanwords from Chinese in Poetry

5 Loanwords from Chinese in Prose

Chapter 4: Nominals

1 Nouns
 1.1 Prefixes
 1.2 Suffixes

2 Pronouns
 2.1 Morphological Peculiarities of Pronouns
 2.2 Personal Pronouns
 2.3 Reflexive Pronoun onǝ/onǝre
 2.4 Demonstrative Pronouns
 2.5 Interrogative Pronouns
 2.6 Collective Pronouns

3 Numerals
 3.1 Cardinal Numerals
 3.2 Ordinal Numerals
 3.3 Classifiers
 3.4 Months of the Year

Chapter 5: Adjectives

1 Uninflected Adjectives
 1.1 Special Derived Form in -ra
 1.2 -ka Adjectives
2 Inflected Adjectives
 2.1 Converb Form -ku  2.2 Final Form -si
 2.3 Attributive Form -ki
 2.4 Nominalized Form -sa
 2.5 Gerund -mi
 2.6 Deverbal Adjectives in -asi

3 Defective Adjectives
 3.1 Defective Adjective ka-
 3.2 Defective Adjective sa

Chapter 6: Verbs

1 Verbal Grammatical Categories
 1.1 Mode
 1.2 Aspect
 1.3 Tense
 1.4 Mood
 1.5 Voice
 1.6 Retrospective
 1.7 Reported Action
 1.8 Iterative
 1.9 Predication
 1.10 Honorification
 1.11 Politeness

2 Verbal Classes
 2.1 Consonant Verbs
 2.2 Vowel Verbs
 2.3 Irregular Verbs
 2.4 Defective Verbs
3 Verbal Affixes
 3.1 Verbal Prefixes
 3.2 Verbal Suffixes
4 Auxiliaries
 4.1 Bound Auxiliaries
 4.2 Lexical Auxiliaries

Chapter 7: Adverbs

1 Adverb ita ~ itǝ ‘Very, Extremely’

2 Adverb sǝkǝmba ‘Very’

3 Adverbs paⁿda ~ panapaⁿda ‘Considerably’

4 Adverbs kǝkǝmba ~ kǝkǝmbaku, kǝkǝⁿda ~ kǝkǝⁿdaku ‘So Much, Extremely’

5 Adverb sapa ‘Many’

6 Adverb taⁿda ‘Only’

7 Adverb mata ‘Again’

8 Adverb iya ‘More [and More], Plentifully, Perfectly’

9 Adverb iyǝyǝ ‘More and More’

10 Adverb masu-masu ‘More and More’

11 Adverb yumɛ ‘At All’

12 Adverb imaⁿda ‘Yet, Still’

13 Adverb mǝtǝna ‘In Vain, Aimlessly, For No Reason’

14 Adverb simba ~ simba-simba ‘Often’

15 Adverb potǝpotǝ ‘Almost’

16 Adverb napo ‘Still, More’

17 Adverb sika ‘Thus, In This Way, So’

18 Adverb kɛⁿdasi ~ kɛⁿdasiku ‘Probably’

Chapter 8: Conjunctions

1 Conjunction tǝmǝ ‘Even If, Even Though’

2 Conjunction mǝnǝ ~ mǝnǝwo ‘Although, But’

3 Conjunction mǝnǝkara ‘Although’

4 Conjunction mǝnǝyuwe ‘Although, Because’

5 Conjunction napɛ ‘At the Same Time As, Just As’

6 Conjunction ŋgane ‘So That, in Order to/That’

7 Conjunction ŋgani ‘Like, As If, So That’

8 Conjunction karani ‘Just Because, As Soon As’

9 Conjunction toni ‘While, Before’

Chapter 9: Particles

1 Focus Particles
 1.1 Topic Particle pa
 1.2 Focus Particle mǝ
 1.3 Focus Particle sǝ ~ ⁿzǝ
 1.4 Focus Particle namo
 1.5 Focus Particle kǝsǝ

2 Interrogative Particles
 2.1 Interrogative Particle ya
 2.2 Interrogative Particle ka

3 Desiderative Particle mǝŋga ~ mǝŋgamǝ

4 Empathic Particles
 4.1 Empathic Particle kamǝ
 4.2 Empathic Particle si
 4.3 Empathic Particle mǝ
 4.4 Empathic Particle ya
 4.5 Empathic Particle yǝ
 4.6 Empathic Particle na
 4.7 Empathic Particle wo

5 Restrictive Particles
 5.1 Restrictive Particle nǝmï
 5.2 Restrictive Particle ⁿdani
 5.3 Restrictive Particle sura ~ sora
 5.4 Restrictive Particle sapɛ
 5.5 Restrictive Particle mbakari

Chapter 10: Postpositions

1 Postposition ⁿzi ~ ⁿzimənə ‘Like’

2 Postposition sambï ‘Like’

3 Postposition məkərə ‘Like’

4 Postposition pa ‘Every’

Chapter 11: Interjections

1 Interjection iⁿza

2 Interjection ina

3 Interjection wo

4 Interjection ani

5 Interjection ana

6 Interjection wasi

7 Interjection apare

8 Interjection apare
Index of Personal Names
Index of Terms
Index of the Examples from Texts
Index of Forms and Constructions
All those interested in Japanese studies and (historical) linguistics.