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Article The Number System of Ancient Japanese

OliverSlay

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Nicely set out! I think it is hard to suggest the words were pronounced differently because the transliteration of characters has changed across the same timeline... what is found in early English books may be spelled differently but also may have been incorrect at the time... kana are too new to accurately portray the sounds. For example ん used to indicate 'mu' before 'n' (if I remember correctly)... so there are two ways to read わからん 'wakaran' and 'wakaramu' = "I don't understand"...

Anime followers may recognise the 8 million gods... yahoyorozukami .. and some place names... Yasokuni Yasoshima ...

My blog posts from 7 years ago exploring the numerals in Japanese, Korean, Ainu (and Cambodian)



Oliver
 

Toritoribe

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ん used to indicate 'mu' before 'n' (if I remember correctly)... so there are two ways to read わからん 'wakaran' and 'wakaramu' = "I don't understand"...
Sorry for nitpicking, but you seem to remember incorrectly. Actually, む used to indicate "n", so む could be read "mu" and "n".

一般には、平安時代以降、撥音便化した助動詞「む、なむ、けむ、らむ」などについては、「ん」と読む場合も「む」がそのまま用いられた。

Also, わからん is n-euphonic change (撥音便) of わから, not わからむ. む is a classical auxiliary verb for volition/presumption, thus, わからむ is equivalent to わかろう in modern Japanese, not negative わからん.

the 8 million gods... yahoyorozukami
八百万神 is usually read "yaoyorozu no kami". 八百万 is indeed written やほよろづ in historical kana orthography, but the pronunciation is "yaoyorozu", similar to the case that む is pronounced as "n". If you want use "yaho" for 八百 to represent historical kana orthography, 万 also should be "yorodu".
 

joadbres

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Sorry for nitpicking, but you seem to remember incorrectly. Actually, む used to indicate "n", so む could be read "mu" and "n".
I think that what he was referring to was the probably much oversimplified, but frequently-encountered explanation that the hiragana character ん was once a "hentaigana" of the character む, or, put another way, was used in writing to represent the 'mu' spoken sound, before it was re-purposed to exclusively represent the 'n' sound. The truth is apparently more complex than that, as alluded to in the text immediately preceding that which you cited:

「ん」の字形で「む・う・も・ん」の音を示す単語に共通して用いられている
 

OliverSlay

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I think that what he was referring to was the probably much oversimplified, but frequently-encountered explanation that the hiragana character ん was once a "hentaigana" of the character む, or, put another way, was used in writing to represent the 'mu' spoken sound, before it was re-purposed to exclusively represent the 'n' sound. The truth is apparently more complex than that, as alluded to in the text immediately preceding that which you cited:

「ん」の字形で「む・う・も・ん」の音を示す単語に共通して用いられている
I think he was right - you are both right... that mu む was originally used to represent 'n' ん before the latter was created.... The hentaigana 无 from which む was derived was used to derive ん and standardised in 1900...

I don't see 无 against も orう in my hentaigana app...
 

joadbres

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The hentaigana 无 from which む was derived was used to derive ん and standardised in 1900...
You seem to have several mistakes here.

The む character was derived (is believed to have been derived) from 武, not from 无.

无 is not a hentaigana. It is a kanji. Hentaigana are not kanji. Rather, they are equivalent to hiragana, although now mostly obsolete and no longer in common use.
 

Toritoribe

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The truth is apparently more complex than that, as alluded to in the text immediately preceding that which you cited:

「ん」の字形で「む・う・も・ん」の音を示す単語に共通して用いられている
Yes, ん indeed used to represent "mu" or some other sounds, but these are more likely considered exceptions, as the wikipedia page mentions that these usages are found in 土佐日記 hand-written by 藤原為家, but generally, む was used for "n" sound.
 

OliverSlay

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You seem to have several mistakes here.

The む character was derived (is believed to have been derived) from 武, not from 无.

无 is not a hentaigana. It is a kanji. Hentaigana are not kanji. Rather, they are equivalent to hiragana, although now mostly obsolete and no longer in common use.
Yes... I have it seems. It has been a long time since I had this in my head. :) I understood that the hentaigana
1565706586725.png
, and then む itself were derived from the man'yougana '武'. And there were several other 'mu' man'yougana (including 无) from which a number of 'mu' hentaigana were derived.. e.g.
1565653298250.png
or
1565653330727.png
. They may be the characters from which modern ん was derived.

I translated 土佐日記 (and other texts) in a two year 日本文語 (as English-speakers named it) option in my university degree back in 1992 - but from a more recent transliteration most likely - definitely not an original hand-written version - like the page on Wikipedia... :) I had to revisit it a decade ago as I couldn't recall the story at all, which was much easier with the internet. A couple of years ago I took the Keio University's Japanese Culture through Rare Books MOOC which was really interesting Japanese Culture Through Rare Books - Online Course - they covered the printing of scrolls and 'books' including Tosa Nikki. I also recommend Osaka University's 'hentaigana' app for Android/iOS.

At the moment I am studying a PhD in molecular biology, so it's all getting pushed deep in to the past,,,, my apologies for rusty memories.. :)
 
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