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Historical Linguistic Methods

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Chapter Summary

The reconstruction of proto-forms of the Japanese and Ryukyuan languages is in principle done on the basis of the comparative method. More specifically, the reconstruction involves the comparison of modern languages/dialects as well as old existing texts such as Ruijumyôgishô [A collection of words by class] and Bumôki. Crucial points in reconstructing the accent system of Proto-Japonic are (i) establishment of accent classes, (ii) filling the classes with phonological characteristics, and (iii) explanation of the development of modern accent with phonetically reasonable accent changes. In order to establish accent classes, accentuations of two or more languages are compared. In Japanese kokugogaku tradition, reconstruction is in general based on a traditional Japanese phonological analysis. In Western linguistics, some of the previous reconstructions are done in the framework of generative phonology, such as Thorpe, Hayata, and Okuda.

Keywords: accent classes; historical linguistic methods; Japanese language; phonological characteristics; Ryukyuan language



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