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The Evolution of the Japanese Past and Perfective Suffixes
by Karen E. Sandness

“The wealth of focused examples is a resource that knowledgeable readers with an interest in this topic will find useful.” 
Charles J. Quinn in The Journal of Asian Studies
 

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, 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.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 26
Published 1999, 272 pp.
ISBN 0 939512 92 0, hardback, £24.00