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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
from Chinese characters
cursive calligraphic style,
Japanese Hiragana script
here in a
document from the early 12th century)
was originally intended to be used by and
for women and
that knew few
Japanese is the native language of the vast majority of Japanese people in
the world, increasingly also the primary language of Japan’s ethnic minorities,
such as Ryukyu Islanders, Ainu, Koreans and Chinese. Japanese language studies
are popular all over the world, because Japan is a major trading nation, Japanese
tourism is an important source of income, and Japanese art, literature and
Buddhist traditions enjoy worldwide recognition and admiration, especially
in Europe and the Americas.
Japanese uses a mixed script consisting of two
types of syllabaries (known as kana, hiragana for native syllables and katakana for foreign-based syllables) as well as Chinese characters (kanji). Chinese characters can be pronounced differently, depending on the time and
place from which the words they occur in were imported. This makes Japanese
a difficult language to learn to read and write.
Some linguists consider Japanese
a language isolate while others consider it an Altaic language. It may well
be possible that it descended in part from proto-Altaic and came to be infused
with Ainu and Malayo-Polynesian elements.
direct contacts with Dutchmen on Dejima Island
were limited, “Dutch
studies” flourished in Japan
During a period
of xenophobic isolationism and ruthless persecution of Christians, prior to
Perry’s success in prying Japan open by means of gunboat diplomacy,
merchants from the Netherlands were the only Westerners permitted to conduct
in Japan, though fairly strictly controlled and confined to Dejima Island in
Nagasaki Bay. Some Japanese soon learned, mostly from translators, that the
Dutchmen had worthwhile scientific and technological information written in
Dutch, though most
of it was not specific to the Netherlands.
clandestinely, a good deal of this information came to be transferred to interested
Japanese off the island and was distributed in Japanese translation, and the
area of Rangaku (“Dutch studies”) developed from there. Thus, before Japan was reopened to the
American pressure (14 July 1853), there had been two periods of Western influence:
first a Portuguese and Spanish period and then a Dutch one.
uses numerous English loanwords (written with Katakana characters). Some of these have been abbreviated since they were adopted. For
instance, the word suto ‘(labor) strike’ has been abbreviated from original sutoraiku.
Genealogy: (Altaic >) Japanese
Historical Lowlands language contacts: Dutch, English