Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Chika, Jul 24, 2006.
Where did Japanese language come from?
The origin of Japanese is unknown. Linguists assume it could be derived from the Altaic [日本語] or Japonic languages [日本語], but it's not proven.
Some maniac people are trying to find relations
between ancient Japanese language with old hebrew.
However the Japanese language is a group of "Indo-europian family"and the hebrew is not.
Some Japanese dilects are quite resemble to Hebrew.
You're going to have to explain this one a little further!! Can you provide some examples of similarities? And which dialects in particular?
The theories Who cited are mentioned in many writtings. Other Theories further break it down to say that Japanese, Turkic languages and Korean are the closes relatives. Turkic originated on China's western border and Korean on the eastern. IMHO The nearest relative is Korean. Grammar and structure are quite similar and both languages have several words in common even if we do not consider Chinese loan words. Scholars believe Japnese people and languge originated on the Korean peninsula. The problem with Japanese is there are no ancient records which describe proto-Japanese and unlike other close languages Japanese is not inteligible to any other language speakers.
Here is a good summary of all possible theories about the origin of our today's Japanese language. The last paragraph says it all.
The only credible theory is that Japanese is its own isolated language family (along with the Okinawan dialects). There's no resemblance between Japanese and Hebrew.
As Wikipedia notes, Japanese could be related to some extinct languages from the Korean peninsula (but not modern Korean).
Grammatically, Japanese is very similar to Korean; however, this is mostly just because they are both agglutinative topic-comment languages.
You may enjoy this discussion: How likely are chance resemblances between languages?
The simple fact would appear that while Japanese is very likely related to some other languages, it is really not possible to prove it conclusively, mainly because it has been isolated for so long.
The Altaic theory has the most theoretical support, but it can't be conclusively proven. Example: Turkish kara - Japanese kuroi - "black." As Outsider indicates, chance resemblances are common between languages, particularly in vocabulary, so this proves nothing per se. There's little to support grammatical similarities between Japanese and Altaic languages.
My humble opinion is that Japanese language developed isolated for a long time from its mother languages (some languages developed originally in the chinese-korean lands) but its roots are still shown in its gramatical structure. Then later it suffered a big and strong revitalizing change that strikingly enriched its vocabulary when chinese writting was adopted.
Yes, a few words about japanese and hebrew. Of course, no relationship, whatsoever. But a rapid glance at folk etymology and other myths might be useful and ...interesting. From the time Jesuits (and others) were trying to find Jews in China, some were also trying to find traces of judaism in Japan. The japanese syllabary (katakana and hiragana) bares vague ressemblance with hebrew (ka could be seen as a kaph, -sorry can't write here ivrit and nihongo on this PC-), a coincidence of course, accentuated when old inscriptions, half erased and barely readable are found. At the end of the 19th century, someone claimed to have found some inscriptions near a well in Japan, looking like hebrew. A JOKE. From there, funny theories emerged, one has it that the word samurai would come from shomer (guardian [of the Temple]), shomer becoming shomerei Israel , so, somewhere one could see a (wrong) similarity between the two words, with some kind of semitic root SMR ... Another joke. Some arabic scholar also claimed that japanese comes from arabic... A japanese scholar, using the word AKA (meaning sacred water in sanskrit) and also used in japanese with that sense, built a theory that this word gave the latin word AQUA (with many pages of speculations ...), defying the laws of phonetics. Aqua in latin was pronounced a-qu-a (3 elements, qu being always vocalized in latin, as we know), it gave eau in french, aqua, agua, apa, aigue (provençal for eau) etc. NEVER aka ...
Now, in short, japanese is close to korean (though not as close as many believe), it bares some similarities with turkish and other turkic languages (being an agglutinative language).
Aoyama-san, that was pretty interesting, never thought about hebrew and japanese not even related to a joke thanks so much for sharing it. We all learn new things everyday.
Major words in Japanes are adopted and transformed from Chinese in about 1 thousand years before, today we can saw so many similar between both languages.
But for original, I don't know it exactly.
That is very true, as japanese is "bilingual", mixing chinese with japanese. The process is complicated (though there are rules, phonetically and etymologically, a bit long to discuss here). But japanese and chinese are two different languages, belonging , each, to a different linguistical group. Korean has also acted as a "go-between" or a bridge between the two languages.
Many opinions are far-stretched. The word samurai comes from the
old japanese verb, saburau - saburou, " I am here near you at your
services ". The original meaning has nothing to do with guardians nor
If you watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" one of the Greek characters explained the origin of "kimono": from Greek "winter": χειμώνας [çimonas] (himonas). In winter you put on clothes, don't you
Anyway, seriously one Russian person from Kirghizstan, knowing both Russian and Kirghiz (one of the Turkic languages) said in Bishkek University they taught Japanese and explained the grammar on Kirghiz examples, and it made a lot of sense to students, since grammar is very similar in Turkic languages and Japanese/Korean.
I was exposed a little to Korean and I was amazed by grammatical similarities between Japanese and Korean - particles, word order, endings, politeness levels, etc. The endings and particles are not the same but the pattern is similar and you can map them.
"I go to school":
Japanese (私は) 学校へ 行きます。 ((watashi-wa) gakkō-e ikimas)
Korean: (저는) 學校 (학교) 에 가요. ((jeo-neun) haggyo-e gayo.)
(The grammatical pattern is identical for Korean and Japanese:
(optional: I-topic marker) school - direction marker go - polite ending.
The same phrase in Chinese Mandarin will be quite differently structured:
我去学校。 or 我到学校去。
Wǒ qù xuéxiào. or Wǒ dào xuéxiào qù.
Korean and Japanese have the similar grammar. Both languages belong to the Ural-Altai language family together with the Turkish, Hungurian languages, manchurian. From the sixth century, many chinese words were borrowed into Japanese but it did not affect the grammar of the language. Some Japanese words have the old Korean origins.
The origin of the Japanese language and its relations with the Ural-altai
languages have not been confirmed clearly.
Samurai from saburau/saburou, showing the change from b to m , when it is normally the opposite , that is m to b , like man/ban (san man yen/ banzai, banno yaku) moku/boku (mokuzo/bokuto) mi/bi/be(i) etc. Unique example in french : samedi, from sabedi (sabato, sabado, shabbat)...
In case anyone is still interested in this topic, I just wanted to say that I don’t believe it is fair to dismiss the Hebrew-Japanese connection as if it were a fact that there is no connection between the two. The theory that one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel ended up in Japan, was credible enough that NOVA thought it was reasonable to use that theory in their broadcast. What supports this theory is mainly the similarities between the languages, and between Judaism and Shinto. There is a book called “The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese people” by Joseph Eidelberg; this book should be an interesting read for anyone willing to give this theory a shot.
Here are some examples of words that have the same meaning and are similar in pronunciation pointed out by Eidelberg:
Measure: Japanese= hakaru / Hebrew= haqar
Shoulder: Japanese= kata / Hebrew= qatheph
Today: Japanese= kyou / Hebrew= qayom
Light in weight: karui / Hebrew= qal
You: Japanese= anata or anta / Hebrew= atah or anta
Become silent: Japanese= damaru / Hebrew= damam
Please, I beg you, get informed. This kind of 'explanations' don't make sense at all. One can find so-called lexical similarities between any two languages of your choice. One can find 'similarities' between Chinese and Dutch, Persian and English, Latin and Swahili, based upon sheer similarity of lexical items.
The bad news is: It's nonsense, complete, utter nonsense. It's silly, it's un-scientific and -- excuse me my harsh words -- infantile and immature. This kind of idiosyncratic fringe nonsense is only believed by either complete nutters or people who don't have a single clue what historical linguistics is all about.
I'm sorry for these words, but I think somebody has to say it.
Frank, you really should read something more than once if your going to make assumptions. I think the thesis of my post was very clear: “ I don’t believe it is fair to dismiss the Hebrew-Japanese connection as if it were a fact that there is no connection”
I never said there was a connection between Hebrew and Japanese, and I never stated that the examples I got form Eidelberg’s book proved that there was any connection. If I did do those things, I deserve your scorn. The bad news (for you) is: I did not. You are right; It could all be coincidence, all 500+ words. There’s nothing wrong with finding similarities between languages, and than ENTERTAINING the thought of there being a connection.
At least two individuals on this Thread has stated that there is no connection between Hebrew and Japanese; that is something that has not been proved or disproved. All I was saying is that you should not say something as if it were factual when you have no way of proving it. Then I entertained the possibility that there may be a connection. That’s all that happened. Taking a position on a theory is a formula for healthy debate; on the other hand, making a judgment on one, and passing it off as fact is a formula for misinformation.
I take your 6 Japanese-Hebrew pairs being intended to weigh the balance for a connection between Hebrew and Japanese. Otherwise, I am hard-pressed to find any motives.
Such a list can be made between any two languages if one has patience to do so. No, the list has no evidential capacity. In other words this cannot be used to prove anything between Japanese and Hebrew.
To rephrase your statement;
There is an inherent flaw in finding haphazard similarities between languages for the sake of ENTERTAINING the thought of there being a connection.
You’re a bit feisty for someone in your respectable position; would you like to elaborate on that inherent flaw? I know that most Japanese people do not want to hear anyone make the suggestion that there is any relationship between Japanese people and a fallen tribe of Jewish peoples, but lets keep our cool boss.
You can take my original post for what it is: a clarification that it is not a proven fact that there is no connection between Hebrew and Japanese, and introducing the fact that there is a theory out there that says there is a connection between both the language and religion.
You can believe that it was some pathetic attempt to convince people that there was a connection between the two languages by putting together a poorly planed list of words that the two languages had in common; which by the way, any fool can identify that it is not sufficient evidence for making a well founded argument for anything.
Again, if anyone is interested in this theory (and again it is a THEORY,) you should pick up a copy of the book “The Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese People” by Joseph Eidelberg. You may also want to check out NOVA’s “Lost Tribes of Israel” broadcast, or check it out online at NOVA's website.
It's not a theory, it's a wild guess, however entertaining.
A theory is something that has withstood tests (i.e. has direct evidence) and is useful for making further predictions. A few coincidental word similarities, such as those that can be found between any two languages, don't begin to make a theory.
What's the main proposition being put forward anyway? That Hebrew and Japanese share a common linguistic ancestry? Or that some Hebrews managed to make it to Japan several thousand years ago? The first is, by all evidence, untrue. The second is extremely unlikely, and would require some kind of archaeological evidence (Hebrew script in Japan, Hebrew potsherds, etc.) to qualify as a theory.
The above is very true.
With all due respect, trying to establish a link between Hebrew and Japanese is a joke . But then, jokes are worth listening to, to the end, to tell whether they are funny (or not).
An Arabic scholar tried to "demonstrate" the same thing between Arabic and Japanese ... Another joke.
Phonetical coincidence can be found everywhere ... Some more between Hebrew and Japanese :
Dan (in Hebrew, root for JUDGE : Dayan,Daniel), in [sino]-japanese handan
Yam ressembling Umi or Mayim (Mei in compound) ressembling mizu
A few others . See also (humbly) my post # 11.
Apart from liguistic similarities mentioned above there is some interesting DNA research which connects a large section of the Japanese people with Tibet and Korea - both these peoples having an origin in NE Asia.
First of all, my apologies if I sounded too harsh in my previous letter.
Secondly, I think I understood your thesis: you find a few lexical similarities and you conclude from that it's possible that Hebrew and Japanese are in one or another way connected with each other, and that it is impossible to dismiss a connection.
This kind of reasoning might be popular, but it doesn't really impress me .
I am confident enough in my assertions to state that the non-existence of a relation between Hebrew and Japanese is a fact, a plain and simple fact. All the rest, indeed, is entertainment.
It doesn't take much to arrive at this conclusion: grasping and undertstanding the very methodological basis of historical linguistics should be sufficient.
This article has been already mentioned in this thread. I'd also like to refer to this one (about pseudoscientific language comparison).
On Ask a Linguist one can find many articles about chance resemblances and their scientific value (which is, btw, zero, nihil, nada, nikse, nothing): here, here, and here.
On the other hand, the burden of proof lies upon your shoulders. But keep in mind that
1. it takes more than a list of (no matter how many) lexical items.
2. you have to look at the earlier/earliest history of both Japanese and Hebrew before coming up with any conclusions.
3. you should be aware of some basic principles of historical linguistics. Basic infomation on the general principles and methodology of historical linguistics can be found here, here, and here.
4. in general it takes more time for a linguist to come up with a methodologically sound and scientific theory than the time which is needed to read one single book and write a post to a message board.
I am surprised that no one yet has mentioned the Abraham Chromosome,supposedly common to Japanese and Jews ...
One could also talk about the "Chosen People" concept, that I, personally, find in both the Jews and the Japanese.
But that may be another story ...
Hi Frank, thank you for the friendlier tone.
I think I made clear what my intentions were. You initially took my 6 (technically 7) word pairs out of the context on my post, and accused me of trying to establish a link between Hebrew and Japanese based solely on those words.
If I gave that impression, I apologize. That’s not what I was doing, so please stop harassing me by insisting what my intentions were. I just wanted to through a theory out there, I had no intention of making an argument that the theory was true (which I know now is reckless behavior.) If I did, I could do a lot better than a few common words; in fact, since people seem to be interested in debating this theory, I think I will. I originally became interested in this theory by the similarities that Judaism and the Shinto faith shared, it was only after that that I read about the research being done to link the languages. I will return to argue the theory after I do some research.
I like to thank the people who decided to reply in an argumentative fashion, rather than rebuke me.
I never knew about that DNA link, thanks for the info
P.S. Frank, for what its worth: I did read the entire Thread before posting my first reply, and I was fully aware of the study on the probability of chance resemblance. If I’m not mistaken, I never contested that language similarity is not sufficient evidence to prove a connection, although you cannot use that study to completely write-off the possibility.
The problem I have with you is that you made a flawed assessment of my motives, and refuse to take responsibility. No amount of intellectual jargon coming form you will change that.
A quick search on the net reveals that if we would believe all the stories and publications about the Jewish Tribes which got Lost in the course of history, the Japanese would be the 735th Lost Tribe or something.
50yen, you are indeed not to be expected to get influenced by 'intellectual jargon' . Or, for that matter, by any referrence to proper historical and historical-linguistic research.
Good luck with your search.
Or Chinese and English... or Chinese and Quecha. There's always enough chance.
Then again, Spanish ciempiés has two morphemes: the first meaning a hundred, the second one meaning feet. And there's 百足 ! That surely means that Iberians fleeing from the cartaginian invasion must have reached Japan.
First of all, I don’t think I’m smart or anything, but I don’t think it is fair to have my intelligence questioned by someone who thinks its ok to speak in any tone as long as he apologizes in advance.
Second of all, wipe that insolent parenthesis smile of your face.
And lastly, the appropriateness of your attack on my lack of “proper historical and historical-linguistic research” is heavily dependent on your false assumption that I was attempting to argue that the theory was true. if you cannot understand that, I think you are overestimating your intellect; or at least your character.
Could you please contribute to the topic rather express your annoyance because some people are very skeptic about your claims that a relation between Hebrew and Japanese is not to be dismissed.
So far, 80% of your mails you wrote to express your anger (in absolute numbers, that's an impressive 4 out of 5). Lots of people, including me, used their energy to point out some fairly good reasons to dismiss any connection between H and J. Maybe you could use your energy to substantiate your claims, whatever they might be.
An exercise in futility, for sure, but a few corrections here :
1 : Today in Hebrew = hayom (no q)
3 : you = atah, OK, anta is Arabic or Aramaic (colloquial), never in Hebrew
4 : damam ? That one I don't know (but eager to).
Anta is found in modern Arabic, but it was used in Hebrew before the Arabic language.
Damam is also no longer used, it is damah or daham in modern Hebrew and still retains the same meaning.
I cannot verify the word qayom, but I believe it is found in old Hebrew.
Sorry about the immature outburst Frank.
I admire your tenacity, and somewhere your knowledge of Hebrew. It may, perhaps, not be put at best use.
Just some food for thought (but that borders a thread about Hebrew, not Japanese, let's avoid drifting out of topic) :
the word for day is yom in Hebrew (yum in Arabic), the definite article is ha (hayom=the day=today). Qa, to my humble knowledge, comes from nowhere ...
Science sans conscience n'est que ruine de l'âme.
Science without conscience is nothing but the ruin of soul. (F. Rabelais)
Several posts have been deleted from this thread on account of off-topic remarks. Please note the topic of the thread while writing your posts.
So far, this thread has established that an unsystematic list of similar words does not contribute to the discussion on the origin of Japanese. If you wish to use a word list in order to introduce, mention or support a theory of Japanese being related to another language, please be advised to assess how scientific yours is before posting.
Wikipedia has a decent section on the 10 lost tribes (with includes the Japan theory.)
I mentioned before that there were similarities between Shinto and Judaism; there is an article called "Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes" by Arimasa Kubo that makes this connection, and is available in English at Moshiach Online as well as other websites.
Some seem farfetched, still, some of these may not be a coincidence, who knows.
Most of us seem to have an anal fixation for that probability study, so I won’t go into the linguistic similarities too much. It does not matter how similar the languages are, we can just deny all possibilities for the sake of probability. That said, using the process of elimination lets take out all the loanwords in Japanese, and that takes out a big chunk of the language; better yet, lets Just take out all the words/names besides the ones that have no etymological meaning and we are left with just a few thousands. Compare these words with the words that were just eliminated, and we find that a disproportionately high amount of the remaining words corresponds to Hebrew.
As long as you didn't have a look at the history of the words you want to discuss (including a look at the Old and Middle Japanese forms, for example), every discussion about similarities and connections, or possible connections or the impossibility to dismiss connections, is futile.
Well, surely this list (in German) will help you. You just have to look at the Hebrew (or language X) and seemingly similar words in Japanese. Then follow the 36 or something criteria used by Hoffmann in the article.
Good luck with it.
That is exactly right, without any
(my god !). One simple and good (and final) example of that is the supposed similarity between anata and anta. Use of anta dates back 2500 years, use of anata 4-500 years (or I stand to be corrected).
This being said, Japanese has no gender nor plural, has both verbs be and have (absent in semitic languages). Coincidental similarities do NOT prove anything. But we would all like and work eagerly towards Judeo-Japanese friendship and mutual understanding, for sure ...
I skipped the referrences to anal fixations and other fancy stuff.
Says who? Demonstrate that, please.
After being busy with comparative historical linguistics for the last 20 years, I must say that I don't understand the method described above, neither the marked phrase: what's a word which doesn't have an "etymological meaning"? But that's probably my fault.
Says who? Please demonstrate.
Edit: As said before, the burden of proof lies upon your shoulders. Prooving a theory is something else than merely repeating it.
Japanese is most certainly NOT in the Indo-European language group. It is considered a likely candidate for membership in the Altaic group, along with Korean, Mongolian, Uighur etc.
One thing many folks seem to be overlooking is that words are not always passed down inside languages as genes are in families. Personally I have read a great deal about philology and I have concluded that words are in fact something like TECHNOLOGIES which arise and spread, often around the world. Needless to say closely related languages have many similiarities, lexical and otherwise, but there are also words that spread with technologies and concepts, and there always have been. Consdider the thought experiment: two ancient tribes, totally dissimilar in language, and one invents fire and calls it "sog". As soon as the neighboring tribe learns of it, they will adopt the word "sog" for it as well, and the languages thereby appear a little iota closer, whereas in reality they are just as distant as ever. Therefore, morphological, phonetical and cultural characteristics are far more reliable than lexical ones for assessing languages' closeness. For example, in nearly all Indo-European languages, the oldest words for "five" and "fist" or "hand" or "punch" are very similar. This, along with other characterstics, can illuminate such questions better than "anata" sounding like "anta".
Right. And Japanese has certainly NOTHING to do with the semitic languages group either. In fact, even the relationship between Japanese and Korean (Mongolian and Uighur not included, some linguists, abandoning the old Uralo-Altaic reference, speak about a turkic-mongolian group, in which Japanese is remotedly -and arguably- included) is debatable. If it is true that Japanese and Korean bear many similarities (same word order, some words very close) many linguists believe that they do not belong to the same group of languages. Japanese being unique.
Well, this is not a popular fact among Japanese people, but they are not unique. A US blood group and genetic study over the last few years found the Japanese are 100% Korean. I read it in the NY Times or another respected American newspaper.
By Japanese, I meant the language ...
Being unique meaning that the way the language is built, the way it combines Chinese and native Japanese is also unique. Korean is also unique in its kind, its alphabet (writing system -hangul) completely different from that of Japanese but still inspired by Chinese calligraphical strokes.
Or would the Koreans be 100% Japanese ... Considering the fact that there are 128 millions Japanese and 65 millions Koreans ...
An academic distinction, but Yamato was populated by Ainu and other Caucasians until 2000 years ago, whereas Korea has been populated by Koreans for at least the last 5000 years. Not to say I don't prefer Japanese food and architecture, interior design, clothing, poetry, etc.
My meaning was not about race per se but of place of origin: If the Japanese migrated from South Korea 1500 to 2000 years ago, then we must look for similarities in morphology that might indicate they are in the same language group. This one, hopefully, will not be deleted by the over-zealous.
It seems very unlikely there is any relationship between Korean and Japanese. The grammars seem similar to a speaker of Indo-European languages, but the fact is Korean and Japanese just both happen to be agglutinating SOV languages. It's natural that these sorts of languages, which can be found all over the world, have many features that are similar.
As far as I can tell, no one's demonstrated any systematic derivation of non-Chinese vocabulary from a common proto-language, or presented any other proof of common heritage. Ethnic similarities or not, Japanese appears to be an isolate (if you count Okinawan as Japanese).
I do find it interesting the theory that Japanese is be related to an older, now-extinct language once spoken in Korea.
Ainu is not a Caucasian stock. I have found a concise explanation in a Wiki article.
Yamato is the name of the federation of largely Yayoi tribes that rose to power during the 4-5th centuries in Central Japan. A more appropriate term for the geographic area that comprises the territory of modern Japan is Japan Isles.
In the article referred to above, you will also see the myth of Japanese ethnic homogeneity collapse; "[a]fter a new wave of immigration, probably from the Korean Peninsula, some 2,300 years ago, of the Yayoi people, the "pure-blooded" Jomonese were pushed into northern Japan. Genetic data suggests that modern Japanese are descended from both the Yayoi and the Jomonese." Neither the Japanese people nor the language has one single "place of origin."
Separate names with a comma.