Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: palatalization and nasal sounds
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 10:11:46 GMT
I think I remember reading somewhere that the Japanese language originally lacked palatal and nasal sounds. Interestingly when kana was first created there were no symbols for っ and ん. And palatal sounds were not written with the now standard ょ, etc.
I don't know how much we can really know for sure but when Kanji was first introduced to Japan did the palatal/nasal sounds come into the language right away or did it take several hundred years for them to circulate from the speech of the upper classes throughout the whole language? I think I remember reading that it took several hundred years before the conventions for writing nasal and palatal sounds in kana were adopted, but before then, it could just be that only Japanese words were written in kana and words from Chinese were kept in Chinese so there was no need for nasal/palatal kana. But I could be wrong. Which is it?
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