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Weird similarities between Japanese and Korean

 
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:03 pm    Post subject: Weird similarities between Japanese and Korean Reply with quote

So I was reading an article in Language today that uses Korean as its test language (it's testing whether object relative clauses are still harder to process than subject relatives in languages with prenominal relative clauses instead of postnominals like English has), and I noticed some creepy similarities between Korean grammar and Japanese.

For example, following words ending in a vowel the subject marker is ga (=/ka/ or /ga/) (I don't know if it's a particle, I have no idea whether Korean is as ambiguous about spacing as Japanese), whereas in Japanese it's ga (=/ga/) (after a consonant the Korean one is i). The object marker is (r)eul (depending on if the preceding word ends in a vowel or consonant), and in Japanese it's (w)o (the presence of the w varies by dialect). Marking for questions in Korean is kka, in Japanese it's ka. All of these are in exactly the same positions in both languages (ignoring Japanese wa, though maybe that has something to do with Korean (n)eun?).
(Apparently in Korean doubling a consonant means 'tensed', whatever that means. It's got three possible forms for any POA - plain/voiced, 'tensed' and aspirated. Japanese just has voiced and unvoiced.)

What little of the grammatical structure I have seen is also frighteningly similar (having a specific verb form for attributive (the paper labeled it 'adnominal'), having honorifics (though IDK how these work), etc).

Now I know a lot of people have proposed this link and haven't done a very good job of it, but it looks pretty plausible just based off of the above information. I can already see a hypothetical correspondence of Korean k > Japanese g and Korean kk > Japanese k, which seems perfectly natural. (Obviously there's no other data to back this up ATM because I don't know any words in Korean.)

I am seriously considering learning Korean specifically to investigate this.

EDIT: Poking around through the examples on Wikipedia has turned up some interesting stuff:
K bul (/pMl/) > J hi (fire), note that Japanese has had a change of /p/>/p\/>/h/
K mul > J mizu (water), sadly this creates both /l/#>0 and /l/# > /zM/ - maybe the original had a vowel at the end that was lost in Korean?
K mal > J uma (horse), though Chinese also has ma (with some tone) as horse. AFAIK the Japanese one isn't from Chinese, IDK about Korean.
K -kkang > J kawa (river) - there's that kk/k again (though it's gang when as a separate word)
K u / wi (differs by North vs. South) > J ue (K above/on, J top (it's a noun in Japanese, IDK how it works in Korean))
K geot > J koto (thing, in J restricted to immaterial)

There also seems to be some sort of correspondence with verbs in Korean ending with -da and in Japanese ending in -ru (K itda, J iru (to be in a place)).

There's of course a lot of stuff that doesn't line up at all (and also words that are similar because both are loanwords from Chinese). But still - what do people think?
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achemel



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm not sure what you think is so unusual or even frightening about it, but it has indeed been theorized by some people that the two languages are related somehow, likely through a very distant parent language, perhaps as old as 10 000 years. Both Korea and Japan borrowed heavily from Chinese culture, including their language - not just the writing - so it seems natural that some words would be similar even now. I personally have always thought they were related, but I'll agree it's interesting how similar they are sometimes, especially grammatically - I imagine that's something less borrowed than vocabulary.

I suppose, in general, I think they're related, and good luck should you decide to pursue a study of Korean. Wink
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

achemel wrote:
Well, I'm not sure what you think is so unusual or even frightening about it,

If they weren't related the similarities would be really surprising. Currently it seems sort of in limbo - it looks like too much to be chance, but not enough has been actually demonstrated to allow for wide acceptance of the relationship.

Quote:
but it has indeed been theorized by some people that the two languages are related somehow, likely through a very distant parent language, perhaps as old as 10 000 years.

Indeed. Sadly, the methodology of those proposals has been severely lacking, and thus (quite rightfully) they are not widely accepted.
(Many of these people are the same ones that roll up both along with Mongolian and Turkic and a couple other things in to one big grandly-implausible 'Altaic' family. Not that it couldn't exist, but their evidence is not nearly enough to make it reasonable.)

Quote:
Both Korea and Japan borrowed heavily from Chinese culture, including their language - not just the writing - so it seems natural that some words would be similar even now.

Well, of course there is a lot of that (J sensei / K seonsaeng). But Vietnamese has borrowed a lot from Chinese too (C guó, K guk, J koku, V quóôc (can't combine the diacritics easily)) and it's unrelated to Japanese, Korean or Chinese.

Quote:
I personally have always thought they were related, but I'll agree it's interesting how similar they are sometimes, especially grammatically - I imagine that's something less borrowed than vocabulary.

Indeed, structurally they are quite similar (though it's hard to find any morphemes that might be cognate).

I might posit K -(eu)n / archaic J -ru for ATT, but it seems a bit tentative (IDK if -ru is even considered a real morpheme, IDK exactly how the old rentaikei is analysed).

Quote:
I suppose, in general, I think they're related, and good luck should you decide to pursue a study of Korean. Wink

Thanks ^_^
Saying 'these look like they're related' is the easy part - actually proving it is the hard part.
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Aeetlrcreejl



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest you read about the older forms of both languages. Apart from providing evidence for or against this theory, they're interesting.
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed. I know a bit about the history of Japanese, but nothing about the history of Korean.

Don't really know where to look though - Wikipedia at least has some useful info for Japanese, but there's basically nothing at all for Korean.
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kyonides



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

achemel wrote:
Well, I'm not sure what you think is so unusual or even frightening about it, but it has indeed been theorized by some people that the two languages are related somehow, likely through a very distant parent language, perhaps as old as 10 000 years. Both Korea and Japan borrowed heavily from Chinese culture, including their language - not just the writing - so it seems natural that some words would be similar even now. I personally have always thought they were related, but I'll agree it's interesting how similar they are sometimes, especially grammatically - I imagine that's something less borrowed than vocabulary.

I suppose, in general, I think they're related, and good luck should you decide to pursue a study of Korean. Wink

Since archaelogy has no more ancient findings of ancient cultures than those belonging to Egypt or Sumerian / Akkadian cultures (and I don't remember what was the oldest source found at the Eastern part of Asia), it might have been derived from a common language used in 2300 BC or a few hundred years before that at most. That'd be about 4300 years ago...
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, AFAIK there are archaeological finds going back to the hundreds of thousands of years (60-70 thousand at the least) - as long as humans have existed, they've been leaving their junk around for other people to find later. Egypt and Sumer and the stuff in that Mesopotamia (as well as contemporary Shāng China) are merely the world's first civilisations.

Also AFAIK the Japanese are ethnically sourced from a people that started coming from Korea in the Yayoi-jidai, around 400bc. (The languages could easily be far more distantly related.)
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kyonides



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[off-topic]Tests like radiocarbon dating aren't accurate if the results exceed the 1000 to 2000 years ago limit, so any test telling you mankind is older than 10000 years shouldn't be consider as a fact. The moon surface covered by a stratus of dust (caused by common solar radiation destroying the rocks it touches) indicates it's only 6000 to 10000 years old. If it were hundreds thousands years old, the astronauts might have died there and never come back.[/off-topic]
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achemel



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly I didn't meant to start anything about how old anything was... 10000 is my "really old" number. (>_<)
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kyonides



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just trying to say that a language changes with every new generation or so, so changes or mutations or etc. may happen much faster than previously expected meaning it'd just take hundreds of years instead of thousands...

I'm also waiting for the OP to post more examples of those similarities. I hope some day we find the original name of their mother tongue (not just "Chinese" but a specific dialect(?)) from which both of them evolved.
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kyonides wrote:
I'm also waiting for the OP to post more examples of those similarities. I hope some day we find the original name of their mother tongue (not just "Chinese" but a specific dialect(?)) from which both of them evolved.


Well, I haven't been doing much research since (^_^'), but I'll see if I can find some more. I don't have the best source materials, mind, and I don't know the first thing about the history of Korean (and don't know quite where to start).

I bet the hypothetical mother tongue would be called 'Proto-Japono-Korean' or 'Proto-Koreo-Japonic' or something.
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Baldash



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

just read this
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I've read that. I'm trying to keep it in mind - what you need to prove languages are related is a large list of cognates with mostly regular correspondences, and at this point I don't know enough Korean to even begin coming up with those. So this is a completely preliminary 'maybe this could work' thing.
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