|Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.UU|
Possible Cognates in Japanese and Korean
Are Japanese and Korean related languages? If you know one of these languages, you will find the other fairly easy to learn. Grammatically, they're remarkably similar. Both languages are verb-final and use postpositions. They also use honorific (for talking about others) and humble (for talking about yourself) forms to indicate the social status of the speaker, listener and people being talked about. But despite these similarities, linguists have not conclusively proven that both languages are related. One problem is that the basic vocabulary of both languages is quite different. If Japanese and Korean are sister languages (or even cousins), they would share a large number of cognate terms. This doesn't appear to be the case. Without a large number of cognates it's hard to make a case for a genetic relationship.
Linguists have come up with a number of theories about the origin of Japanese. Some claim that Japanese is an Austronesian or Dravidian language. One interesting theory is that Japanese is a Creole language that developed when Austronesian speakers learned an Altaic language. In Japan, the most popular theory is that Japanese is an isolate (it is unrelated to any other language.)
One obstacle for researchers is the lack of early source material. The earliest Korean and Japanese scribes wrote in Chinese and the earliest Japanese records only go back to the seventh century. If you are interested in this topic, two scholars who have written about it are Samuel E. Martin and Roy Andrew Miller.
The words you see on this list are merely an attempt to match up words based on their sound. I've incorporated words suggested by Martin, Miller and others. Any relationship between these words is completely hypothetical. If you have any suggestions for this list, please send me an email.
I have used the conjunctive forms of the Korean verbs for ease of comparison with the Japanese.
In some cases I have used archaic forms of the Japanese to show clearer correspondence with the Korean terms.
The first person pronouns "mi" and "wanu" were used in the earliest Japanese texts. Their connection with Altaic was first suggested by Roy Andrew Miller.
Click here to return to the LanguageMuseums.com home page.
Click here to return to the Altaic Languages.
Japanese Korean Cognates