Japanese Studies Program @ York University

JP1000 Lecture 1

Characteristics of the Japanese language:

How many languages are spoken in the world? Ethnologue 2023

: Ural-Altaic language family

Typology: Wikiwand
Basic word order(S)   O   V         {English, Chinese:  S  V  O}

  Subject [as Topic] is not mentioned when it is obvious from the context, 
  in particular, anata 'you' and watashi 'I'.

Agglutination: traditional subclassification [cf. isolating, inflectional]                     

       Vstem       +       X1      +      X2      +      X3 ....
        kak        +       ase     +      rare    +      nakat + ta 
       write             causative      passive        negative past
      "(I) was not made to write."

Particles [postpositions]: joshi       {English: prepositions}

    English:       I write a letter to my mother every week.
    Japanese:      (watashi wa) maishuu haha ni tegami o kakimasu yo.
                          topic             'to'    object     assertive

    Group 1:  discourse particles [DP]

        DP              Function

        WA      :       topic
        MO      :       'also'
        SHIKA   :       'only'

    Group 2:  case markers [CM]

        CM              Case

        GA      :       subject
        O       :       object
        NO      :       possessive
        NI/E    :       direction 'to'
        DE      :       location  'at'
        KARA    :       'from'
        MADE    :       'as far as', 'until'

    Group 3:  sentence particles [SP]

        SP              Modality [speaker's attitude toward proposition]

        KA      :       interrogative
        YO      :       assertive
        NE(E)   :       exclamatory, confirmative
        NO      :       interrogative 'Is it the case that ...?'

Relative Clauses [RC]:  RC - NP    [English: NP - RC]

    English:       the students who are studying Japanese at York University

    Japanese:      Yooku daigaku   de Nihongo   o benkyoo-shite iru gakusee
                  York University  at Japanese obj  studying    are students


    Dictionary form: [Vst-u/ru]  kak-u, tabe-ru, yom-u, ku-ru .....

 Conjugation:  verbals change their form according to what follows them

       strong conjugation                 weak conjugation
            kak-a-nai                     tabe-   nai
            kak-i-masu                    tabe-   masu
            kak-u                         tabe-ru
            kak-e-ba                      tabe-re-ba
            kak-o-o                       tabe-ro
               :                             :

MASU-form:   most commonly used in formal conversation
             machimasu, hanashimasu, iimasu, wakarimasu, yomimasu .....

    Function and meaning:

            affirmative                        negative

    masu:    general/habitual event;        masen: imperfective; future                                

    mashita: perfective; past               masendeshita: past


    very few singular and plural markers [use of numeral+counters for 
    specific counting]

    no articles ['the', 'a'] for definite/indefinite distinction

Time adverbials:

    kinoo                  kyoo                   ashita
    senshuu                konshuu                raishuu


Basic word order:  (S)             Tadv   |       O      |       V
                                          |       Dir    |

Questions:  declarative sentence + KA

    affirmative:           Eega o mimasu ka.
                           Doko ni ikimasu ka.
                           Itsu kaerimasu ka.

    negative:              Wakarimasen ka.

                           Shimasen deshita ka.

Answers to yes/no questions:

    Affirmative questions:

    1. simple yes or no answer:
       Terebi o | mimasu ka.         Hai/Ee,| mimasu.   Iie,| mimasen.
                | mimashita ka.             | mimashita.    | mimasen deshita.

    2. adding new information:
       Eega o mimasu ka.             Hai/Ee, tokidoki mimasu.
                                     Iie, yoku terebi o mimasu.

    Negative questions:

    1. simple negative questions:
        Nihongo wa wakarimasen ka.   Hai/Ee, wakarimasen.
                                     Iie, wakarimasu (yo).

    2. invitation:
        Kaerimasen ka.               Ee, kaerimashoo.
                                     Iie, mada chotto....

    3. confirmation:
        Chotto takaku arimasen ka.   Ee, takai desu nee.
                                     Iie, soo demo arimasen.
Sociolinguistic prominence

Junior-Senior approach:              rank-conscious senpai せんぱい koohai こうはい oyabun おやぶん kobun こぶん
sensee せんせい deshi でし

                                     politeness phenomena ていねいさ
                                     Put yourself in a junior position.

                   Criteria:         age, position, status, (gender) - priority???

                   Attitude:         respectful

Dialects of Japanese (hoogen)

5 large groups - 18 sub groups - 150 ~ 200 actual dialects (???)

Japanese Dialects (wiki_en)
Japanese Dialects (wiki_jp)

Word order Typology

Norio Ota 2023