Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: Re: palatalization and nasal sounds
Date: Wed, 01 Oct 2003 07:45:11 GMT
References: 1, 2, 3, 4
> I am therefore not claiming that the ancient Japanese had all of the nasal and platal sounds (and if my statement have led the readers to that impression, I must correct myself) but what I am saying is that you cannot categorically state that the ancient Japanese was strictly consonant-vowel language before the assimimilation of kanji into it.
As I said it seems rather impossible to know...
But regarding "nihon" and "nippon", I think maybe "nihon" is not such an old pronunciation. I think in the beginning all the h's in modern Japanese were p's in Old Japanese. It's said that early Portuguese romanized は, ひ, ふ, へ, and ほ as "fa", "fi", "fu", "fe", and "fo", so I'm thinking the sound changed from p->f->h. Also, there are dialects like those of Hateruma and Miyako Islands where all the /h/ phonemes are /p/ and some linguists think these dialects are closer to the original Japanese language than the modern Tôkyô dialect so "nippon" or maybe "nipon" may indeed be an older pronunciation. But if you're saying Nippon was "nippon" from the beginning, are you also saying "happyaku" was "happyaku" from the beginning and never "hachihyaku"? I was under the assumption that these sound changes happened over time and the sound was originally "hachihyaku" and "nichihon".
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