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A History of the Japanese Language


  • Page extent: 462 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.82 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 495.609
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PL525 .F73 2010
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Japanese language--History

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521653206)

Bjarke Frellesvig describes the development of the Japanese language from its recorded beginnings until the present day as reflected by the written sources and historical record. Beginning with a description of the oldest attested stage of the language, Old Japanese (approximately the eighth century AD), and then tracing the changes which occurred through the Early Middle Japanese (800–1200), Late Middle Japanese (1200–1600) and the Modern Japanese (1600–onwards) periods, a complete internal history of the language is examined and discussed. This account provides a comprehensive study of how the Japanese language has developed and adapted, providing a much needed resource for scholars. A History of the Japanese Language is invaluable to all those interested in the Japanese language and also students of language change generally.

• Separates each period into different parts, providing a clear chronological basis for analysis • Traces the changes that have occurred in the language from Old Japanese to Modern Japanese • Analyses phonological changes as well as those within grammar and vocabulary


List of tables, maps and figures; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. Old Japanese: 1. Early writing in Japan and Old Japanese sources; 2. Phonology; 3. Grammar; 4. Loanwords; 5. Eastern Old Japanese; Part II. Early Middle Japanese: 6. Writing and sources; 7. Phonology; 8. Grammar; 9. The sinification of Japanese; Part III. Late Middle Japanese: 10. Sources; 11. Phonology; 12. Grammar; Part IV. Modern Japanese: 13. Varieties of Modern Japanese; 14. Phonology; 15. Grammar; 16. Eastern dialect features of the standard language; 17. The westernization of Japanese: loanwords and other borrowings; Appendix. Summary of the main regular phonemic changes between Old Japanese and conservative Modern Japanese; References; Index of main grammatical forms; General index.


Review of the hardback: 'This book provides a ready resource on pre-modern Japanese for linguists throughout the world.' Satoshi Kinsui, Osaka University

Review of the hardback: '… monumental … it is likely to have an impact for decades to come …' John Whitman, Cornell University

'The field … owes a great debt of gratitude to Bjarke Frellesvig for producing this comprehensive, well-organized, and eminently useful monograph. It not only does the job splendidly but also sweeps away cobwebs and introduces some fresh perspectives on the premodern language … His history will, I think, be the standard textbook for the next generation of students, a stimulus to researchers, and the first place for linguists not specializing in Japanese to check when they have diachronic queries about Japanese. It is a solid contribution to the field.' Language

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