Chapter 9. The Japanese inflectional paradigm in a Transeurasian perspective

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Although the genealogical relationship between Japanese and the Transeurasian languages has been a source of contention for nearly two centuries, scholars seem to agree that paradigmatic morphology could substantially help to prove relatedness. Starting from this consensus, this contribution examines whether the correlations in verb inflections between Japanese and these languages can be characterized as “paradigmatic” and whether they are more likely to result from chance or borrowing than from inheritance. For this purpose, this paper advances Transeurasian cognates for the five basic inflected forms of Japanese grammar as well as one derived stem. Taking into account internal cohesion between ordered sets of cognate forms, shared idiosyncrasies and extended relationships of grammatical patterning, the paper concludes that the correlations in verb inflections are indeed paradigmatic and more likely to be inherited than to be coincidental or borrowed.


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