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Reading/speaking bungo

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  • Ii Saburou
    I m curious as to how people feel it is best to read/speak classical or middle Japanese. Is it better to use known, modern pronunciations (such as gawa
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 9, 2001
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      I'm curious as to how people feel it is best to read/speak classical or
      middle Japanese. Is it better to use known, modern pronunciations (such
      as 'gawa' instead of 'gaha' or even 'gafa' or 'gapa') or to read it as it
      is written?

      Sources I've read seem to conflict on how they think it should be
      pronounced. I was led to understand that most people read it with the
      modern pronunciation, but these individuals are not neccessarily trying to
      reenact the language so much as making it easier to understand. It seems
      somewhat like taking Chaucer and reading it with a 'modern' accent:

      1: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
      2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
      3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour...

      Read as:

      1: When that April with his showers sweet
      2: The drought of March has peirced to the root
      3: And bathed every vein in sweet liquor...

      How do others feel about this? As a relevent example:

      "Hana sasofu
      Arasi no niha no
      Yuki nara de
      Furi yuku mono ha
      Wa ga mi nari keri"
      (from Ogura Hyakunin-Isshu, attributed to "Nyuudou Sakino Dajyoudaijin")

      As

      "Hana sasou
      Arasi no niwa no
      Yuki nara de
      Furi yuku mono wa
      Wa ga mi nari keri"

      Which would be the way certain texts are telling me to read it.
      Personally, it seems that, with an understanding of the linguistics at
      work, you actually get something of a happy, slurred medium whereby 'ha'
      is said 'ha' but almost sounds 'wa' and similar changes take place in
      other words ('afu' is more like 'a(f)u' than 'au', if that makes any
      sense). I'm not sure what others think of such things, however.

      -Ii Saburou Katsumori
    • Anthony J. Bryant
      Semester ended... able to breathe at last... catching up on e-mails. ... Tough question. In Japan, it s generally all done with modern pronunciation (the same
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 17, 2001
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        Semester ended... able to breathe at last... catching up on e-mails.

        Ii Saburou wrote:

        > I'm curious as to how people feel it is best to read/speak classical or
        > middle Japanese. Is it better to use known, modern pronunciations (such
        > as 'gawa' instead of 'gaha' or even 'gafa' or 'gapa') or to read it as it
        > is written?
        >

        Tough question. In Japan, it's generally all done with modern pronunciation
        (the same way they teach Attic Greek with modern pronunciations) and the only
        distinction is in the spelling. This definitely helps in the classroom
        environment, and in academic circles, as *everyone* can understand what you
        are saying. I've got a tape of someone reading the text of the Hojoki, and
        it's in modern pronunciation.

        I *have* heard of one or two people who use orthographic pronunciation (e.g.,
        they say "ke-fu" instead of "kyou") but they're generally considered
        exceptions and a bit eccentric. The only time we have ever used the
        orthographic pronunciation is when we're parsing words in class and need to
        be precise as to what the elements are. And even then, we don't
        orthographicize particles, 'cause "wa" is "wa" and so on...

        >
        > Sources I've read seem to conflict on how they think it should be
        > pronounced. I was led to understand that most people read it with the
        > modern pronunciation, but these individuals are not neccessarily trying to
        > reenact the language so much as making it easier to understand. It seems
        > somewhat like taking Chaucer and reading it with a 'modern' accent:
        >
        > 1: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
        > 2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
        > 3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour...
        >
        > Read as:
        >
        > 1: When that April with his showers sweet
        > 2: The drought of March has peirced to the root
        > 3: And bathed every vein in sweet liquor...
        >
        > How do others feel about this? As a relevent example:
        >

        That's an interesting question, too. It doesn't seem right in the modern
        pronunciation. I guess, ultimately, it's one of the "when in Rome" things...
        and in Japanese academic circles -- or at least so far as I've penetrated
        them -- the pronunciation is "conventional" rather than otherwise. Part of
        the problem is that some sounds seem to have been lost (or fallen into
        disuse) over time. Hence the disagreement on the name of the queen. It's
        pretty clear from historical sources that her name was Pimiko, but in
        Japanese academic circles, if you say that people will look at you funny. No
        one says it; they all say Himiko. (Perhaps it's like referring to "Emperor
        Henry" of the HRE -- only German snobs in the States would say "Heinrich"
        instead of Henry, but if you say the latter, everyone will know who you
        mean.)

        >
        > "Hana sasofu
        > Arasi no niha no
        > Yuki nara de
        > Furi yuku mono ha
        > Wa ga mi nari keri"
        > (from Ogura Hyakunin-Isshu, attributed to "Nyuudou Sakino Dajyoudaijin")
        >
        > As
        >
        > "Hana sasou
        > Arasi no niwa no
        > Yuki nara de
        > Furi yuku mono wa
        > Wa ga mi nari keri"
        >
        > Which would be the way certain texts are telling me to read it.
        > Personally, it seems that, with an understanding of the linguistics at
        > work, you actually get something of a happy, slurred medium whereby 'ha'
        > is said 'ha' but almost sounds 'wa' and similar changes take place in
        > other words ('afu' is more like 'a(f)u' than 'au', if that makes any
        > sense). I'm not sure what others think of such things, however.

        You also have to remember that the orthography was only modified in 1946. So
        a book published in 1942 would still say "Kwansai chihofu ni ha binbau ga
        iru" for what was clearly pronounced "Kansai chihou ni wa binbou ga iru."

        I've seen some writing -- both here and in Japan -- on speculations on the
        original pronunciation, and although it's interesting, it's still all
        speculative. Was "ha" always voiced (e.g, was river *originally* "kaHA" and
        never "kawa"?)? We just don't know.

        There've been some interesting studies done on it in kokubungaku circles, but
        I just don't have the time to make it a subject of serious research right
        now.

        Effingham
      • drnostrand
        Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! My god like professor has coniption fits if you read classical Japanese they way it is written. He also detests
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 29, 2001
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          Noble Cousins!

          Greetings from Solveig! My "god like" professor has coniption fits if
          you read classical Japanese they way it is written. He also detests
          "wapro" Japanese. Such are the ways of academics. Wapro Japanese is
          one place where he is destined to loose as there is more and more of
          it around all the time. An amusing not on Western orthography for
          Japanese. I just received my copy of Ishige's new book on Japanese
          food culture. In the introduction, he gives a pronunciation guide.
          Calling -n a naizalization of the preceeding vowel is simply
          confusing. However, the truly amuzing thing is that he intended for
          the book to use macrons over long vowels, but somehow it didn't quite
          make it through the typesetter and the book is set using circumflexes.
          How do you know that he intdended macrons? He tells you in the
          pronunciation guide that he is using macrons.

          Your Humble Servant
          Solveig Throndardottir
          Amateur Scholar
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