The Relationship Between Japanese and Korean

Authored by: John Whitman

The Languages of Japan and Korea

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415462877
eBook ISBN: 9780203124741
Adobe ISBN: 9781136446597


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This chapter reviews the current state of Japanese-Ryukyuan (JR) and Korean internal reconstruction and applies the results of this research to the historical comparison of both families. Reconstruction within the families shows proto-Japanese-Ryukyuan (pJR) and proto-Korean (pK) to have had very similar phonological inventories, with no laryngeal contrast among consonants and a system of six or seven vowels. The main challenge for the comparativist is working through the consequences of major changes in root structure in both languages, revealed or hinted at by internal reconstruction. These include loss of coda consonants in Japanese, processes of syncope and medial consonant lenition in Korean.

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