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Title: Japonic  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: List of ISO 639-1 codes, List of languages by first written accounts, History of the Korean language
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Linguistic classification: unclear, possibly Altaic (see Japanese language classification)
Ethnologue code: 5: jpx

The Japonic languages

The Japonic language family includes the Japanese language spoken on the main islands of Japan as well as the Ryukyuan languages spoken in the Ryukyu Islands. The family is widely accepted by linguists, and the term "Japonic languages" was coined by Leon Serafim.[1] The common ancestral language is known as Proto-Japonic.[2] The essential feature of this classification is that the first split in the family resulted in the separation of all dialects of Japanese from all varieties of Ryukyuan. According to Shiro Hattori, this separation occurred during the Yamato period (250–710).[3]

Scholarly discussions about the origin of Japonic languages present an unresolved set of related issues.[4] The clearest connections seem to be with toponyms in southern Korea, which may be in Gaya (Kara) or other scarcely attested languages.[5]


The Japonic (or Japanese–Ryukyuan) languages are:

Beckwith includes toponymic material from southern Korea as evidence of an additional ancient Japonic language there:[6]

  • Yayoi
    • Japanese
    • Pre-Kara
  • Ryukyuan

It is not clear if "pre-Kara" was related to the language of the later Gaya (Kara) confederacy.


The relationship of the Japonic (or Japanese–Ryukyuan) languages to other languages and language families is controversial. There are numerous hypotheses, none of which are generally accepted.



  • OCLC 51163755
  • Shimabukuro, Moriyo. (2007). The Accentual History of the Japanese and Ryukyuan Languages: a Reconstruction. London: Global Oriental. 10-OCLC 149189163

External links

  • The LINGUIST List MultiTree Project: Japonic Family Trees
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