Explains the evolution of Japanese suffixes and provides an aid to scholars reading classical Japanese


The inflectional morphology of the classical Japanese of the Heian period (794–1185) is markedly different from that of modern standard Japanese. In particular, five temporal and aspectual suffixes, -ki, -keri, -ri, -nu, and -tu, have disappeared, and a sixth, -tari, has evolved into the modern past and perfective suffix -ta. This study documents the changes in these six suffixes by examining their usage in literary works from the Heian period through the Kamakura period (1185–1334) and most of the Muromachi period (1114–1615).In her work, Karen E. Sandness succeeds in (1) presenting an internally consistent and workable analysis of classical Japanese suffixes, (2) explaining the evidence for the evolution and disappearance of these suffixes, and (3) pointing out the ways in which the dialectological and literary evidence support and contradict each other. The Evolution of the Japanese Past and Perfective Suffixes is important reading for those interested in Japanese language and linguistics. It will also aid scholars and students in reading and understanding various aspects of classical Japanese.

Karen E. Sandness received her PhD in Japanese from Yale University. After teaching elementary and intermediate Japanese for eleven years, she now works as a freelance editor and Japanese-English translator in Portland, Oregon.