Saturday, 29 December 2012

Japanese, Ainu and Korean: Native Numbering

Native non-Asian numbers in Japanese and Korean are very different (1-10) from each other and from the Chinese numbers...

English 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Japanese ひとつ ふたつ みっつ よっつ いつつ むっつ ななつ やっつ ここのつ
hitotsu futatsu mittsu yottsu itsutsu muttsu nanatsu yattsu kokonotsu to
Ainu shi-ne tu re i-ne ashikne iwa(n) arawa(n) tu-
Korean 하나 다섯 여섯 일곱 여덟 아홉
hana tu seht neht tah-sot yah-sot il-gop yo-dolp a-hop yol

There is little similarity between any of these numeral systems.


Ainu 8 and 9 - tu-pe-san and shi-ne-pe-san ... could these be (2 from 10) and (1 from 10)?  That would be a little unusual.

Ainu 2 and Korean 2 are similar (even to English).

Ainu do not resemble Inuit numerals, nor Manchu numerals, nor Chukchee numeralsItelmen only has a few numerals before resembling Russian.

Numbers - 1

I was very interested in maths at school... and studied it to Further Maths A' Level (UK). And I have always been interested in languages.  At school I learned French, German and a bit of Italian.  After school I went to Japan for half a year (where I picked up a little Icelandic also!). This was followed by 4 years at University of Sheffield studying Japanese and Korean Studies. During the final 2 years I took a module in Classical Japanese. During my 3rd or 4th year I studied Arabic for one term (I had picked up the Arabic numerals when I was about 7-8 when living in Qatar for a few months). I also had a tendency to dig out books from the library on obscure languages around the world (such as Squamish from BC, Canada)

Despite losing the ability to speak most of these languages I have learned, I have not forgotten the grammars of each... and because of my maths interest and our natural ability to pick out patterns, I tend to spot and remember the patterns. I think it'll help should I ever need to recall the languages I have learned.  The vocabularies should slot back in place after a few weeks...

After University I studied Spanish, Cambodian, Indonesian... some Tibetan, Portuguese, and a few words and rules in several other languages including Russian, Serbo-croatian... before finally taking up computer languages and becoming a programmer. In the last 5 years I have been translating a lot of Spanish and Catalan (although I can't 'speak' Catalan)... because I found 10 years ago that my roots originate from Barcelona.

Numbers in Japanese

Whilst studying Japanese I really explored the numbers... there are two systems - the first based on old Japanese numbers and the second 'borrowed' from Chinese.

J: hito-, futa-, mi-, yo-, i-, mu-, nana-, ya-, kokono-, tou (10) .... 20 = hatachi
C: ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, nana (shichi), hachi, ku, juu...   20 = ni juu

Note here that I do not write hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, etc.  This is because the -t(su)tsu ending is a counter, not part of the number.  It is a counter for single units.  In my classical Japanese dictionary:
ya- = 8 (the translocation (転) of yo- (4)
ya-tsu- (八つ) = 8
ya-so- (八十) = 80
ya-ho- (八百) = 800   - yahoka = 800 days
ya-chi- (八千) = 8000
ya-yorozu- (八万) = 80,000
ya-ho-yorozu- (八百万) = 8,000,000

The Japanese numbers are used for counting small numbers of objects (hitori = 1 person, futari = 2 people, sannin = 3 people; hitotsuki, futatsuki = 1 month, 2 months; hitokoto = 1 word; hitotabi, futatabi = once, twice; hatachi = 20 yrs (instead of ni juu sai)).  Remnants of indigenous Japanese counting systems...  (and Steve Trussel has a nice long list of them).

I was looking for patterns... was it coincidental that 2x mitsu = mutsu?  and 2x yotsu = yatsu?

Here's a table of Japanese numerals... which can be found via Wikipedia or elsewhere these days

1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9-
1s hitotsu futatsu mitsu yotsu itsutsu mutsu nanatsu yatsu kokonotsu
10s too hatachi misoji yosoji isoji musoji nanasoji yasoji kokonosoji
100s momo futao mio yoo io muo nanao yao kokonoo
1000s chi futachi michi yochi ichi muchi nanachi yachi kokonochi

In Korean there is a similar set of numbers:

K:  hana, tul, set, net, taseot, yeoseot, ilgop, yeodeol(p), ahop, yeol... then yeol-hana, yeol-tul ...
C:  il, ee, sam, sa, o, yuk, chil, pal, gu, ship... then ship-il, ship-ee, etc

1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9-
1s hana tul set net taseot yeoseot ilgop yeodeol(p) ahop
Teens yeol-hana yeol-
yeol-yeodeol(p) yeol-
10s yeol seumul seoreun maheun swin yesun ilheun yeodeun aheun
100s on tu-on se-on ne-on taseoson yeoseoson ilgobon yeodolbon ahobon
1000s jeumeun tu-jeumeun se-jeumeun ne-jeumeun taseo-jeumeun yeoseo-jeumeun ilgop-jeumeun yeodol-jeumeun ahop-jeumeun

Korean numbers go further than Japanese... but beyond 100 the words become archaic and one will probably never come across them... except in pre-16th century texts

I've never really looked for the patterns in Korean.. but here are some that come across to me...

3,4,5,6 all end in -s - 7,8,9 end in -o(l)p .. 10s (from 30) end in -heun, -un

3 is set 셋 - 30 is seoreun 서른
4 is net 넷 - 40 is maheun 마흔

5 is taseot 다섯 - 50 is swin 쉰  (was it ever ta-swin? 쉰)
6 is yeoseot 여섯 - 60 is yesun 예순

7 is ilgop 일곱 - 70 is ilheun 일흔
8 is yeodol(p) 여덟  - 80 is yeodeun 여든

9 is ahop 아홉 - 90 is aheun  아흔

The differences here are similar to the changes made in English.  Three-Thirty, Four-Fourty, Five-Fifty, Six-Sixty etc - some small changes to the root to accommodate the affix...

I'll need to investigate the Korean numerals further...

Most countries in South-East Asia also have two numbering systems... native and sino.  Where these numbers stop depends on the country.

Cambodian native numbers are used up to about 20-30, then numbers of Chinese origin are used.  Notably in Khmer 6-9 are formed simply from 5 + 1-4 - perhaps a remnant of finger counting...  20 (mpei) is possibly formed from muay and pei(/phey), 39 may be mpei dop bram buon (20 + 10 + 5 + 4) and 49 = bipei bram buon (2x20 + 5 + 4)

1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9-
1s muay bi bei buon bram bram-muay bram-bi bram-bei bram-buon
Teens dop-muay dop-bi dop-bei dop-buon dop-bram dop-bram-muay dop-bram-bi dop-bram-bei dop-bram-buon
10s dop mpei sam-sep sae-sep ha-sep hok-sep chet-sep paet-sep kau-sep

I suggest that the use of native numerals in all countries is very strong... but the ability to count in very large numbers becomes weaker and more long-winded compared to the Chinese numerals.  In markets and trading, tradesmen would have picked up the Chinese counting system as more as more convenient for accounting for larger numbers.  The Cambodian system does not lend itself to larger numerals which become ever more long-winded.  Japan's older numeral system would be very confusing in situations where Sino-Japanese numbers are used, if only because ICHI is 1 in Chinese, but 5000 in old Japanese.

What little Thai I picked up regarding numerals appeared to run the same way... small numbers were native and larger numbers Sino-Thai.

Indian numbers resemble European more than Chinese... and Western numbers 1, 2, 3 are their Arabic equivalents turned on their side... ١٢٣

Tibetan numerals appear to be based on Chinese... I will need to investigate these further.. it's made a little harder because Tibetan was quite hard to learn to read... But from certain transliterations on the internet I can see a more Chinese influence than Sanskrit which Tibetan script is based on.

More another time...

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A-un - Om

I was today talking about 'Injinji' after seeing a note on a website FAQ about a shop... - a shop selling comfy toe socks..

--“Injinji“ is pronounced (In-gin-ji) and is an African term which describes when a drumming circle reaches a climax, the peak in the performance, when all of the participants are at one with the rhythm, when everyone hits a stride and there is unison among all.-- (from their faq)

When I mentioned this, my cousin said this is aun 阿吽 in Japanese.  It is the building up of the drums in Taiko drumming.

So I have pulled out my Classical Japanese dictionary to look at the origin and meaning of this word... "Transliterated sounds from Sanskrit."  (Strangely Sanskrit in Japanese just happens to be bongo :-) )
Mention of a Niou (仁王) and Komainu (狛犬) - the two gods who sit on either side of the temple gates in the esoteric Mikkyo Buddhism.

阿形 - Agyou - symbolizes overt violence - an open mouth and an outward shout or breath.
吽形 - Ungyou - symbolizes latent strength - a closed mouth and holding one's strength.

Together A and UN symbolize the Life and Death of all beings in the universe. And this is equivalent to the Sanskrit OM - or Aum.

The Upanisads describe Aum as the all-encompassing mystical entity. Today the symbol can be seen everywhere in India...

It is the Alpha and the Omega. Did someone say he was the 'Alpha and the Omega' ... or did they say 'I am the Ah (Α) and the Ohm (Ω)' In mysticism.. the Alpha is the infinite... Omega is the end. And in Amen

Friday, 24 June 2011

Classical Japanese Ya- 8 [Yattsu, Yasoji, Yahoyorozu kami]

These words are listed in my Japanese Kogo Jiten 古語辞典 (Classical Japanese Dictionary)

When I was at University, I was looking for patterns in numbers and noticed this... but this is also in the dictionary...
ya- や(8) is the translocation of yo- よ(4)
[Is mu- む(6) is the translocation of mi- み(3) ?  It's not in the dictionary but feasible...]

ya-tsu 八つ= 8
ya-so- 八十= 80 (yaso-ji is also listed but also means 80 yrs old)
ya-ho- 八百= 800
ya-chi- 八千= 8000
ya-yorozu 八万= 80000
ya-ho-yorozu- 八百万= 8 million

this last one is in the dictionary... きわめて数の多いのにいうこと ("refers to a very very large number") also "”神”にかかる枕詞のように用いる" (Also used as a 'pillow word' describing the gods. - A 'pillow word' is a poetical word (Makurakotoba on wikipedia)) - example:
"ya-ho-yorozu chi-yorozu kami no, kami tsudohi tsudohi imashite" "There were billions of gods... the gods were gathering"

It wouldn't be a literal translation - (8 million, 10 million)

ya-so- 八十-(80) appears to be used for 'many' ...

  • yasokuni 八十国 (many countries)
  • yasoshima 八十島 (many islands)
  • yasokami 八十神 (many gods)
  • yasoba 八十場 (many places) (Yasoba town)

Interestingly there's a lot about Ya- .. hardly anything about Mu- (6)...

[Under Mi- (3)... mi-so-hito-moji (31 syllables - what do you get if you add up 5-7-5-7-7 tanka? = 31) - so perhaps that answers how you join them up.  Rather than "misoji mari hitotsu"]

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Japanese Korean: Same same but different

Native, classical Japanese has a very different feel to Chinese and Korean. Especially to Chinese... Chinese and Japanese are not connected at all except for the adoption of Chinese characters.  Beyond the loan words from China that are Kanji-based, Japanese is totally foreign to Chinese - in nearly all respects.

Japanese and Korean share word order, but the basal language is very different.  Verb forms - to be - です(desu) or だ (da)- in Japanese and 입니다 (ip-ni-ta but pronounced - im-nida) or 이다 (i-da) in Korean.

And the words used to conjoin verb clauses act similarly but are phonetically different words:
English - It is my book but please go ahead... (and read/take it (implied meaning))
Japanese - 私の本だけど・ですが、どうぞ。。。
Reading - Watashi no hon da-kedo (/desu ga), dozo... 
Korean - (그건) 내 책이지만, 제발...
Reading - (keugon) ne ch'ek ijiman, chebal...

Watashi no = ne = My
Hon = ch'ek = Book
da/desu = i = is
kedo/ga = ch/jiman = but (verb affix)
douzo = chebal = please, go ahead...

I suppose this is similar to French English German... 
1) Je mange; I eat; Ich esse
2) Je vais; I go; Ich gehe
3) Je l'aime, mais il ne m'aime pas; I like him, but he doesn't like me; Ich mag ihn, aber er mag mich nicht.

These are very different words... but in Europe there are threads between languages... the meaning and pronunciation of words evolve/mutate through people/through history...  

LIKE... somewhere this is related to German 'gleich' (equal) .. via old English 'gelic' ...  we would have once said 'it likes me' ... 'it is like me' ... and so on... 

and "black" (from O.E. blaec) so similar to "blanc" "blanch"; "white" (from O.E hwit) "weiss" ... apparently 'black' replaced 'sweart' in Old English... from which we get swart, swarth, swarthy... and could be linked to Germanic 'schwarz' (black)

Where are the threads between languages in East Asian? ... 

Hawai'i - Hawaiki - Utsukushii - Utsukushiki

I am particularly interested in the 'Okina that exists in both Polynesian and Japanese... this is a glottal stop that hides an old 'k' sound...

In Polynesian, perhaps the best example is 'Hawai'i'... which may have been Hawaiki in old Polynesian.  In fact this is the name of the island in Maori and other Polynesian languages... (or Avaiki...)  The glottal stop (bicameral consonant or 7Okina) replaced the final 'k'...)

This loss of a 'k' also occurs between Classical Japanese and Modern Japanese.  Nothing is used to show a glottal stop, the glottal stop is hardly noticeable in Japanese.  うつくしい (u-tsu-ku-shi-i) once was written うつくしき (u-tsu-ku-shi-ki) as a declension of the -く (-ku) adjectival verb form.  (うつくしくに;うつくしき;うつくしかった;etc)

This loss of an 'ki' and the similarity/simplicity of the phonemes between Japanese and Polynesian languages always made me think that Japanese was an assimilation, much like English, of more than one race... long ago... Polynesians landing on the shores of Japan... overpowered from the north and from the west by peoples from Kamchatka, the Ainu in Hokkaido, and Koreans/Chinese from mainland Asia...  obviously the Kanji writing system was adopted from China since the 7-8th Century AD.  Hiragana and Katakana were developed much later after hundreds of years of using Man'yogana from these Kanji to represent individual mora (combination of consonant-vowel).

I wonder what people think of a long long ago link to Polynesia...?