Verbal Prefixes in the Hachijō Dialect 八丈方言の動詞接頭辞

For those who have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in almost a year. The two reasons why I haven’t posted in a while are that I canceled one of my articles, and the research that’s been occupying my time hasn’t been targeted towards this blog. In April 2021 I started my tenure as a Research Student at Kyoto University. My area of research was the Hachijō Dialect. Because I wanted to focus all my attention on that research from then, I was planning to release an article on this blog in early-April. The article was going to be about gō-yōon (e.g. the historical /kwa, gwa/ readings of 火 and 瓦). I was planning to write about the orthography used to represent these sounds in the Ruiju Myōgishō 類聚名義抄 and why /kwi, gwi/ were excluded in Bjarke Frellesvig’s A History of the Japanese Language. However, as I was writing the article, I came across some evidence that disproved my hypothesis and would require me to completely reframe my findings. Since it was already April, I decided to shelve the article indefinitely and begin my research on the Hachijō Dialect. I may return to gō-yōon in a future blog post, but I’m not sure.

このブログで、私が約一年間、投稿しなかったと気づいた人がいるかもしれない。しばらく投稿しなかった二つの理由は、研究していたテーマがこのブログ向けではないということと、投稿するつもりだった記事を削除したことだ。2021年4月、京都大学で研究生になった。研究テーマは八丈方言であった。その時から、研究生としての研究のみに集中したかったから、このブログでは新たな記事を4月初旬に投稿するつもりだった。その記事は合拗音(例:「火」、「瓦」の/kwa, gwa/という歴史的な音読み)についてである。『類聚妙義抄』においてこの合拗音を表す綴りだということと、なぜビャーケ・フレレスビッグの『日本語の歴史』(A History of the Japanese Language)で/kwi, gwi/が除外されたか、について書くつもりだった。しかし記事を書いていた時、仮説を覆す証拠を見つけたから、記事を書き直す必要があった。走行しているうちに、研究生が始まる四月になったから、その記事の編集を中止し、八丈方言の研究を始めた。将来、記事で合拗音について書くかもしれない。

I chose the Hachijō Dialect as the topic for my Research Student research because recently there has been some excellent scholarship by Western scholars about it and its relationship to Eastern Old Japanese (e.g. Kupchik’s On the Etymology of the Eastern Japanese Word tego and A Grammar of the Eastern Old Japanese Dialects, and Iannucci’s The Hachijō Language of Japan: Phonology and Historical Development). In particular, The Hachijō Language of Japan: Phonology and Historical Development was invaluable to my research because its appendix is a compilation of several Hachijō Dialect dictionaries. In addition, unexpectedly, in March 2021, the Hachijō Grammar Wikipedia page was created by a user known as LhikJovan. The page is primarily a summary of Akihiro Kaneda’s Basic Research on Verbs in the Hachijō Dialect 八丈方言動詞の基礎研究, but it is very well-written and was quite helpful. This page has made the innerworkings of the Hachijō Dialect more accessible to a Western audience than ever before.

研究生の研究テーマは八丈方言とした理由は、最近、八丈方言及び八丈方言との上代東国方言の関係について、西洋の学者によるすばらしい論文が出たことである(例:ジョーン・カプチックによる『東国方言の語彙、「テゴ」、について』(On the Etymology of the Eastern Japanese Word tego)と『上代日本語方言の文法』(A Grammar of the Eastern Old Japanese Dialects)及び、イアヌッチによる『日本の八丈語:音韻論と歴史的発展』(The Hachijō Language of Japan: Phonology and Historical Development))。特に、『日本の八丈語:音韻論と歴史的発展』には付録がさまざまな八丈方言辞書を基にした集大成辞典だから、私の研究にとても役立つ。その上、2021年三月に、八丈方言文法のウィキペディアページがLhikJovanというユーザーによって制作された。主にこのページは章宏金田の『八丈方言動詞の基礎研究』の要約だけれど、よく書かれていて、役立った。このページは西洋人に、これまで以上に八丈方言の仕組みをわかりやすく説明した。

My research ended up focusing on verbal prefixes within the Hachijō Dialect, and it took about 9 months to conduct my research and write an Undergraduate Thesis on the findings. So, what is a verbal prefix? A verbal prefix is a morpheme which cannot stand on its own and attaches to the beginning of a verb. For a standard Japanese example, the くっ in くっ付く is a verbal prefix. くっ by itself is not a word, and it attaches to the beginning of verbs such as 付く, so it is classified as a verbal prefix. I was planning to write the findings of my research on this blog as an article, but having completed my paper, I am reluctant to. For an article to meet the standards of this blog I need to have confidence that my findings are interesting and conclusive. If I do not think an article has both qualities, I will edit it until it does, or scrap it (like the aforementioned article on gō-yōon). On the other hand, papers have a hard deadline, so even if the conclusions are a bit bland, it still needs to be submitted. In addition, an undergraduate paper is not expected to be perfect, and is more for practice than anything else. Unfortunately, as for my paper, because I focused on such a small subset of words, my conclusions felt suggestive rather than confirmatory. For example, as my paper focused almost exclusively on the Hachijō Dialect and did not focus on other Northeastern Japanese dialects, it was not possible to separate which phenomena were loans and which were innovations. While I would have loved to incorporate as many Japanese dialects as I could, the research would have taken too long and likely become too derailed for a single undergraduate paper. However, while not unarguable, I do think the suggested conclusions of my paper are fascinating, and I certainly think that they could serve as inspiration for others’ future research. Therefore, I am going to post my Undergraduate Thesis on this blog. You can download it from here. Enjoy reading it, but please keep in mind that it is a Research Student paper. And as for the future, I don’t want to make any promises, but I already have some ideas brewing on what my next article will be. Hope to see you there~