"Bungo references"
"Bungo survey"
Learning classical Japanese
Teaching of bungo / classical Japanese

Archive of discussion on the PMJS mailing list (from Sept 13, 2000)

Question raised by Brian Betty

Discussants: Lawrence Marceau, Janine Beichman, Laurel Rasplica Rodd, Robert Khan, Richard Bowring, Anthony Bryant, David Pollack, Kendon Stubbs, Lewis Cook, Philip C. Brown, Robert E. Morrell, Peter Hendriks, Rein Raud, Michael Watson, Nicola Liscutin, John R. Bentley, Stephen D. Miller, Noel John Pinnington, Hitomi Tonomura, Bjarke Frellesvig, Stephen M. Forrest, Royall Tyler, Norma Field, Ivo Smits, Laurel Rasplica Rodd, Susan Matisoff, Jordi Escurriola, John R. Wallace, George Perkins, H. Mack Horton, Mary Louise Nagata, Michael Wachutka

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From: Brian Betty

[...] Does anyone have an author or title for an introductory English work to Classical Japanese? I have found some grammars that discuss CJ in reference to MJ, but I'm looking for an introductory text - a basic reader for an English speaker. [...]

From: Lawrence Marceau

I know of three reference materials available for learning and practicing kobun (a.k.a., bungo bumpô).

1. Helen Craig McCullough. Bungo Manual: Selected Reference Materials for Students of Classical Japanese. Ithaca: Cornell East Asia Program, 1988. This one is very inexpensive, and quite useful.

2. Komai Akira and Thomas H. Rolich. An Introduction to Classical Japanese. Tokyo: Bonjinsha, 1991. [OP] This is also quite good, but I wish the authors had drawn their examples from classical texts, rather than making up their own.

3. Ikeda Tadashi. Classical Japanese Grammar Illustrated with Texts. Tokyo: Tôhô Gakkai, 1975. Rather expensive, and now difficult to acquire, but still quite good.

Hope this helps.

From: Janine Beichman

Does anyone remember Ivan Morris's text? I don't remember the title now, but it had a light blue cover, and it seemed very useful to me at one time. Perhaps others have superseded it?

From: Laurel Rasplica Rodd

There are also P.G. O'Neill's A Programmed Introduction to Literary Style Japanese and Ivan Morris's Dictionary of Selected Forms in Classical Japanese. Both OP, I think.

From: Robert Khan

Regarding the inquiry on Classical Japanese grammars, if you happen to read any French, German, or Italian, you might find some of the following books helpful. The Pigeot in particular is directed to the more novice beginner.

Pigeot, Jacqueline. Manuel de japonais classique: Initiation au bungo Paris: Langues et Mondes / L'Asiathèque, 1998. [179pp. ISBN 291105346X. Available From: www.bol.fr]

Lewin, Bruno. Abriß der japanischen Grammatik. Wiesbaden: Harrassowicz, 1959; 4th. ed. 1996.
[Full title is:...auf der Grundlage der klassischen Schriftsprache]

Two much older books that focus on the 'written style' rather than premodern Japanese per se, and are more oriented towards linguists are:

Lehmann, Winfred P. and Lloyd Faust. A Grammar of Formal Written Japanese. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951

Muccioli, Marcello. Morfologia della lingua giapponese scritta. Con particolare riguardo allo stile classico. Napoli: Istituto Universario Orientale, 1969.

Though the following book is not an introductory grammar, I have found it remarkably readable in its grammatical explanations, and copiously illustrated with examples:

Sandness, Karen. The Evolution of the Japanese Past and Perfective Suffixes. Center for Japanese Studies, Univ. of Michigan, 1999.

From: Richard Bowring

Actually this brings up an interesting problem. From what I know, O'Neill (which was quite useful) and Morris (full of mistakes) have been out of print for some years, and I would agree with what Lawrence Marceau says about the others. McCullough is probably the best bet. The main problem with all these however is that they slavishly follow Japanese 'school grammars' and ignore all the recent work that has been done on bungo. See Lone Takeuchi's book The structure and history of Japanese (Longman Linguistic Library, 1999) and Quinn's groundbreaking thesis to get some idea of how far things have moved on. I realise that we all have to learn the traditional system in order to be able to use the Japanese commentaries but it does seem a shame that students are not made aware of just how very unsatisfactory the system is and just how many problems (keri for one) remain. My own answer has been to create my own detailed notes for an introductory bungo course which gives the traditional outline but also introduces the problems thrown up by this system, without going to town on them, which would be too much for students only just facing bungo in the first place. I would be interested to know how others have faced this problem. I suppose I could work my notes up into something semi-publishable (on the web?) if enough of you thought it was worthwhile.

From: Anthony J. Bryant

>Quinn's groundbreaking thesis

Could I get more info on this thesis? It sounds like something I need to read...

From: David Pollack

There's also Harold Henderson's Handbook of Japanese Grammar (1943, revised ed. 1948), but I think it has to count as a curiosity. It's a lot of fun, including as it does examples from bungo and kogo all mixed up from every conceivable period, from the antique likes of "kono yoo ni umarete wa negawashikarubeki koto koso ookarumere," down to the idiomatic (or "vulgar") "iya jaa nee kae." One imagines that items such as "koosan shinakeriya utsu zo" were thought useful when the book first appeared. Sources for the bungo selections, alas, are not identified.

The unsuspecting student who learned Japanese from this book would have sounded wonderfully bizarre, perhaps even a bit Meiji. This may tell us something about Henderson.

From: Kendon Stubbs

Another interesting German book for novices is Jens Rickmeyer, Einführung in das klassische Japanisch: anhand der Gedichtanthologie Hyakunin isshu (Hamburg: H. Buske, 1991; 2., völlig neu bearb. Aufl.). This is intended for a one-semester class, and is divided into 14 chapters. Each chapter uses 5-10 of the Hyakunin isshu poems to illustrate points of classical Japanese grammar.

Incidentally, one efficient way nowadays to obtain in-print German or French books, such as Rickmeyer, is through Amazon's European divisions, such as http://www.amazon.de for Germany.

[See also Jens Rickmeyer, Klassischjapanische Lektüre, Genji no Monogatari (Hamburg: H. Buske, 1991). /ed]

From: Lawrence Marceau

I, for one, definitely think Richard's lecture notes would provide a great service to the field if posted on the PMJS website, for example, or even published as a book. I would think several publishers would express interest. Issues of tense vs. aspect, first-person vs. third-person, etc. are crucial to our understanding of any kobun texts, but are, as Richard states, not adequately addressed in Japanese or English reference works.

From: Lewis Cook

Let me be among the first to second Lawrence Marceau's expression of interest in seeing and learning from Richard Bowring's notes on bungo grammar. What I wish (and I know I'm not alone in this) is that we could look forward to an informal web version (via pmjs?) early on in what would probably be the long interim of waiting for a print edition from a publisher. (One of the nicest things about web publication is that you can revise and append as often as you like.)

My experience of the traditional 'system' for bungo grammar is that it obfuscates more often than it elucidates, i.e. it's not a system but an improvisation. I'd like to hear more about Quinn as well as Takeuchi and Sandness and others' work.

From: Philip C. Brown

And I thought it was only because I wasn't a linguist/lit specialist that I felt this way about many of the works mention here! Nice to know I have company.

I believe the Quinn reference is to Charles Quinn, however a search of Dissertation Abstracts turns up nothing. My recollection was that publication of a classical grammar that he authored had been announced, but I've never seen it in print. Despite the fact that Charlie is at Ohio State University, my own institution, I regret I can't provide further details for folks.

From: Robert E. Morrell

Be careful before you kill the goose that laid YOUR golden egg. I quite understand that the young always must supersede their mentors -- and they should, or we would have no progress... But a word of caution -- you could be wrong (as Cromwell said).

A word in defense of the much-maligned Ivan Morris (cf., Sansom, Reischauer, etc.). His Dictionary of Selected Forms in Classical Japanese Literature was published in 1966 -- before some of you were even born. It was the best that we ancients had. AND, I noticed that no one bothered to note that Columbia Press issued a 51 --page . . . Corrigenda, Addenda, Substituenda (1970). No, it was not perfect and it was attacked from the beginning (e.g., Yamagiwa, can't locate the date of the review) as not based on modern analyses, but "perhaps of some practical value".

I agree that McCullough's Bungo Manual (1988) is much more informative. BUT,. . . not nearly as accessible for the beginner. Morris lets one look up the suffix IMMEDIATELY, NOT after one knows what, say, "Suffixes attached to the Mizenkei" means. The almost universal Jordan ippoo kootsuu introductory colloquial program declines to even introduce the traditional Japanese grammatical structure into any level of its teaching method. . . I have no doubt that recent studies will provide us with tools to help us understand koten (or also modern) Japanese more accurately. But the fact remains that standard Japanese dictionaries -- koten or kogo -- continue to use the traditional structures, and I figure that we must first accommodate to this. If we have better ideas, OK -- but first comes first. Strange as it may seem, it is just possible that the West may not have the final explanation to EVERYTHING.

From: Philip C. Brown

It's not entirely clear to me to whom the age reference is directed, but I think several issues may be confounded here. The one issue I wanted to reinforce -- and I will try to make the point more clearly here -- is that I found traditional Japanese grammatical explanations confusing at the time I started the study of bungo in 1974, and I am not sure even today that when I seek answers from them I have much confidence in the explanations I find. There are times when I have a strong sense that the explanation I read does not fit the jikata monjo that I am trying to analyze. This confusion was also my reading of the core of Lewis Cook's complaint. (Whether his explanation of the source of the problem is accurate or not I'll leave to others; I'm not particularly interested in the study of language or language pedagogy as ends in themselves.) I do not think the two of us have been alone in this reaction

There are multiple ways to explain grammar. The issue is what works for the members of a particular audience. What works for Japanese is not necessarily most effective for non-Japanese. (The errors and efforts at correction that Morris made may themselves be an indication of the depth of confusion that comes from efforts of a Westerner to work within the Japanese explanatory framework?) It is also clear that those of us who learn bungo as non-Japanese have to learn something, even a lot, about the way Japanese analyze their grammar. The question is whether we have at present works that help us first understand bungo and second help cross the bridge to also or simultaneously understanding the Japanese patterns of grammatical description so we can use Japanese reference works effectively. I think that is still an open issue.

From: Peter Hendriks

Re Charles Quinn's diss, it is called:

A functional grammar of predication in classical Japanese (University of Michigan 1987 PhD)

From: Rein Raud

I also hope that Richard's notes will become available for us all and eventually become a book. There is a great need for such a book, and especially because it makes some classical texts instantly accessible to the newcomer. I might imagine that there are also people who would like to learn some classical Japanese without wishing to learn modern Japanese at all, at least not in such detail that is usually required by classical language manuals, and would want something more than Waley's The Uta (not mentioned here previously, I suppose?). I haven't seen Rickmeyer's book though. Another thing that my quite a lot of people could be very grateful for is a small dictionary of classical Japanese, with examples of usage, seasonal etc connotations and so on - the kogo jitens are not very good on the latter which means that one achieves reasonable cultural competence to read the literature only after one has been reading it for years.

The orthodox Japanese treatment of the classical Japanese language, as we all know, is that it is an earlier version of the same language, more or less in the same manner as if in Lissabon Latin would be called classical Portuguese. (English speakers might not have a problem with this, calling Anglo-Saxon "Old English" as they do.) I suppose there has been discussion on how to delineate language/style/register/layer borders among Japanese linguists as well. Does anyone know?

From: Janine Beichman

I for one would be very interested in seeing your notes on the web, Richard. Maybe this is another candidate for the pmjs essay series that began with Royall's on Genji.[...]

From: Michael Watson

The paperback edition of Lone Takeuchi's book is listed as available at

I've put up an edited web version of the discussion so far, adding the usual bookseller links wherever possible. See:
I hope that there will be many more contributions to add.

I for one would very much like to hear views on the TEXTS used to introduce bungo. Setsuwa? Hôjôki? Sarashina nikki? What is the sequence of prose--and/or poetic--texts that you have found to be most helpful for teaching? It would be interesting to compare notes on syllabi or "set
texts." Online annotated syllabi (or links to pages with same) would be a useful addition to the PMJS site.

PMJS would be only too happy to give a home to Richard Bowring's bungo notes, should he choose to share them with us.

From: Janine Beichman

I would like to second the following paragraph from Michael's message,as I too would like to hear what others are doing about these matters--in particular, am interested to hear what people do in introducing renga, and also Noh, especially to Japanese students

I for one would very much like to hear views on the TEXTS used to introduce
bungo [...]

From: Nicola Liscutin

It would be great if Richard's Classical Japanese Grammar Notes became available on the net or as a book. He kindly allowed me to use them in my bungo classes at soas - they worked very well indeed. My students found them easy to use (they come along with a good index), informative and very helpful. Yes Richard, please do put them on this list!

From: John R. Bentley

I provide the following information to help those who are serious about learning more about pre-modern Japanese language.

My own work, A Descriptive Grammar of Early Old Japanese Prose is due out from Brill early next year.

I personally do not like the term bungo because it is sloppy. It is like mixing the languages of Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare into one language. The language of Nara is very different from that in the Heian. Thus, many linguists call the Heian era language Classical Japanese.

Alexander Vovin (at University of Hawaii) should have a very LARGE book out next year titled A Reference Grammar of Classical Japanese Prose. I helped in the original data compilation phase. The grammar is based on early Heian texts like Taketori, and Ise Monogatari and ends with the late Heian era text Hamamatsu Chûnagon Monogatari.

Both works are based on a structural analysis of the Japanese language. I agree that we need to know the traditional analysis of Japanese to be able to use Japanese reference material, but do not believe that this must or even needs to be studied by students to learn the language. On the other hand, it is up to the instructor which method to teach to the student. Many literature specialists may find it intimidating to learn a structuralist approach to language if s/he has not studied it before.

For the curious, Samuel Martin's A Reference Grammar of Japanese (Tuttle, 1975) is very well-written, and contains much information about the classical language as well as the modern. The price is quite steep, however.

Hope that helps.

From: Stephen D. Miller

I've been following the discussion of postings on PMJS about bungo and the teaching of bungo with great interest. I sense, like everyone else I think, a great uncertainty (dissatisfaction?) about the pedagogy of teaching classical Japanese language (which I do as well) and the availability of texts. (Forgive me, John, for bunching all of pre-1868 Japanese language under the rubric "classical"!) A few years ago I organized a special meeting of the ATJ (Association of Teachers of Japanese) at the AAS on the teaching of classical Japanese language and literature. While the meeting itself was, I think, a success, for a variety of reasons things did not progress beyond that meeting.

It just so happens that at the officers' meeting of the ATJ yesterday we were discussing the formation of a special interest group (SIG) within the ATJ that would address the teaching of bungo. So it seems serendipitous that these postings would appear at the same time as our discussion yesterday.

I join the rest of you in urging Professor Bowring to post his text on the web through PMJS (and follow it up with a textbook), but I wonder if there's not enough interest out there for us to form an SIG to discuss the pedagogical problems of teaching bungo. I would be more than happy to help organize this (perhaps even at the next AAS in Chicago if the rooms are not all spoken for) if it seems such interest exists. Among other things, we could discuss (hopefully in a series of ongoing meetings) texts, approaches to teaching a bungo class, linguistic concerns, pedagogical problems in the classroom, the teaching of undergrads as opposed to grad students, the varieties of bungo (Nara to Meiji), the relationship of bungo to kambun, the issue of when to start the study of bungo etc. It seems to me that our field is ripe for this type of discussion. And, as Haruo Shirane pointed out at our previous meeting a few years back, if we don't become more proficient at this, we face the very real possibility of losing students and endangering the field of classical Japanese literary (and linguistic) studies.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this and the feasibility of pursuing it in the future through such a special interest group.

From: Noel John Pinnington

My experiences may be of some use concerning the texts for teaching bungo.

Following Cambridge University practice, I have found that Hôjôki is an excellent text to start with, especially the first few pages. It is almost as if it was written to be a primer of the language (ignoring for the moment its status as a Japanese / Kanbun mix). We are introduced in turn from the very beginning to each of the important jodoshi: Zu, Tari, Ri Ki etc. The major uninflected suffices also make their appearance in turn: shite, te, ba, do etc. The expression is concise, and there are virtually no honorifics to worry about. After the first two sections, I find that students get bogged down (despite or perhaps because of the brilliant stretching of the language), so it is a good idea to jump to Taketori: up to yobai, and then Ise, early sections. These bring us into keri framing, and questions of narrative and convention. I find that Kokinshû is the best place to start for poetry, as there are a very good range of levels of difficulty, without too much intertextual complexity.

I have been using a version of Richard's grammar notes, and can attest to its concision, usefulness and freshness of approach.

On the question of Noh, the chapter in the 3rd volume of Nogaku Zensho on the language of Noh (I am afraid that I don't have the citation to hand) is extremely valuable.

From: Hitomi Tonomura

Regarding Charlie Quinn's bungo notes, Philip Brown remembers correctly, a revised version of his dissertation is "in the works" to be published by the Center for Japanese Studies Publication Program, the University of Michigan. The tentative title is:


I am looking forward to its publication myself.

From: Bjarke Frellesvig

The following is offered as a follow-up to John's remarks which first of all raise the question of whether to learn pre-modern Japanese or learn about it. I suspect that most members of this list would focus on the former. There is no shortage of scholarly work for those interested in learning about pre-modern Japanese, but unfortunately no optimal textbook in English for learning it. Someone in the list expressed dissatisfaction with one textbook because it uses made up rather than authentic text. Any language I have learnt, except for premodern Japanese (ones), has been taught using made up text. Italia terra est is somehow more approachable than Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.

As a linguist, or perhaps in spite of being a linguist, I do not understand the great dissatisfaction with the traditional Japanese grammatical description of Bungo. Certainly the morphological analysis is a bit strained, but then, few people throw out their Latin grammar because it does not set up for the language the locative case so clearly needed in any sound analysis. And yes, the descriptions of some of the grammatical categories are off; but they are also conflicting, so it is not really that something is intrinsically wrong with the descriptions, it is rather that some things are difficult to understand and are poorly understood.

The problem is not so much with the contents of the traditional descriptions, but with believing that you can have a single description of premodern Japanese. That is what the Japanese descriptions can legitimately be criticised for, but it also seems to me that what we are complaining here is that no one has yet come up with a better description, the correct one. Believing that there must be one. If Bungo is thought of as the fossilized dead language in which Hôjôki was written (and was one of the finest examples), there is no problem. That language has a fairly simple grammar which is usefully described in Japanese, English, German, ... reference books. However, if you believe that grammar also holds for the living languages of earlier or later periods, you are mistaken. If you believe that you can give one description of Keri (or: -ik(y)er- as some people like writing it) which holds through many centuries of Japanese, you are mistaken.

I think that teaching students Classical Japanese in the sense above is reasonable and sensible. Here at Oxford we make - and help, I hope - our second year undergraduates read all of Hôjôki. That will equip them to proceed with modern Japanese as well as with learning different varieties of premodern Japanese. I would not recommend using a variety of texts to teach Classical Japanese, for that would seem to reinforce the misconception that premodern Japanese is one, and it would defeat the purpose of making students acquire the literary norm they need to be acquainted with in order to function in modern Japanese.

On the other hand, study of non-fossilized, living premodern Japanese must take seriously the fact that different stages of any language, Japanese included, are different and cannot be studied as a single entity. Students wishing to study Norito would be well advised to buy John Bentley's forthcoming excellent grammar, but it would be of little direct help to students of Noh plays. And that is as it should be.

From: Stephen D. Miller

Dear Bjarke,

I can't imagine that the group isn't interested in how you manage to teach the Hôjôki to undergraduates who have presumably only studied one year of modern Japanese. For reasons that I think I stated in my posting about starting a special interest group for the teaching of bungo, I think it's important we introduce bungo and classical Japanese literary texts early to our students. While we here at the University of Colorado usually require three years of Japanese for the introductory bungo course, it's become clear that this is still insufficient for most undergraduates. Won't you please share with us the background to this course and some of the methods used in teaching it?

From: Richard Bowring

First. I would like to thank Bjarke for a very thought provoking addition to the debate. He is certainly right on many counts. I suppose my main dissatisfaction with, let us say, present explanations of the grammar of the Kokinshû is that you still cannot be absolutely sure of how to explain a 'keri' or whatever in a kotobagaki and you simply cannot trust the modern Japanese editions to give you an answer. This is frustrating for teacher and student. And this is not just a matter of 'not being able to translate', it goes to the heart of appreciating any particular waka. In this sense the traditional explanations don't quite work properly in the way they do for Latin.

Second. Re. teaching classical early on. We also start classical at Cambridge in similar fashion in the second year, for those who want it.

Don't be misled however. All these students at both insititutions are studying Japanese full-time and have something like 13 hours a week during their first year, at which point they are supposed to know about 1000 kanji. The US and UK systems are simply very very different.

From: John R. Bentley

Stephen D. Miller wrote:

I wonder if there's not enough interest out there for us to form an SIG to discuss the pedagogical problems of teaching bungo. I would be more than happy to help organize this (perhaps even at the next AAS in Chicago if the rooms are not all spoken for) if it seems such interest exists.

I, for one, think this is a good idea. It would be a good chance to get together and see if we can't become more proactive in making pre-
modern Japanese (language and literature) more easily accessible to our students.

From: Stephen M. Forrest

Thanks to all for this fascinating thread (the URL for which I have emailed to my current students). The "special interest group" is a great idea, I think, and I look forward to hearing more.

I'd like to make a late addition to the list of reference books; this one's more of a reader than a text-book:

Daniels, F. J. Selections from Japanese literature (12th to 19th centuries). Texts with notes, transcriptions and translations. General editor F. J. Daniels. London, L. Humphries, [1975, c1958]. ISBN/ISSN 0853311153.

It was used as a textbook at Oxford, along with some xeroxed notes on conjugations of verbs etc., a while back (mid 80s). You couldn't read through it and get the feeling that Classical Japanese (of course a convenient term) was monolithic. Admittedly I can't see much use for it in the regular American university setting, but it's still worthwhile for the odd student who wants to go further than the minimum 1 semester of *optional* bungo.

That one semester, in the case of UMass Amherst at least, is 3 classes x 14 weeks = 42 classroom hours; a textbook to fit that sort of pedagogical squeeze is unlikely to appear, I think. So like others I make do with my own stuff: a selection of waka (influenced by Ed Cranston's bungo course), some prose, and a slew of notes and grammatical tables. [The materials are slowly migrating to the Web, as more and more students expect them to be there.]

At the same time I nudge students happy with MJ (which means 3rd years and above, here) towards the copious MJ annotated editions, having made it clear that the grammar we use is meant as a convenience. The keen come back for a second semester, when we start to read bigger snippets from NKBT editions, but in nearly three years and 30+ students, only two or three have wanted to ask further questions of the grammar (and they were or became grad students).

A last note: one of the generalist kokubun journals* dedicated an issue to premodern grammar, a while back, and it carried among other things a comparative chart of several (4-5?) grammatical systems/explanations used by various esteemed kokubun Profs. So, at risk of stating the obvious, even the "traditional Japanese analysis" is hardly monolithic or static.

*it's in my office, not here--but I can pass on the ref. to anyone interested. It is a good source for the enthusiastic novice.

From: Royall Tyler

I have been following the bungo conversation with interest, particularly appreciating Bjarke's remarks and hoping with so many others that Richard will put his notes up on the web. I myself am teaching CJ this semester for the first time since 1994--just an introductory semester to five students who have finished our Japanese major (2 pretty intensive years). Alas, there is no chance as far as I know of their being able to go further, though three have said they would like to.

Since this is a terminal CJ experience for them, I though I would get them into texts right away, and just teach them grammar (the old-fashioned, "standard" grammar) as the items turn up. That way they will have real, worthwhile memories of CJ. It seems to work pretty well. And I thought that the beginning of famous works might be fun to do, since they are often so particularly famous anyway. But lest anyone suppose that CJ is exclusively antique, I started with extracts from the December 7, 1941 Japanese memorandum to the US Gov't, the one that amounted to a declaration of war, after Pearl Harbor; the subject was too solemn to put in modern Japanese. Then the opening passages of Nihon shoki (an odd one, I agree, but good fun); Kokinshû kana preface, with the opening of Shimazaki Toson's Wakanashû preface for compare and contrast; first Ise passages; Pillow Book; Genji; Hôjôki; Heike; Oku no hosomichi; and back to stuff like Kyoiku Chokugo ot Chohei Kokuyu. A sampler that wouldn't even withstand a less approximate approach to grammar.

I have all these texts in electronic form, with furigana, though in anything but EGWord Lite 3.0 the furigana would have to be put back where they belong. And there is a full vocabulary list for each. I would be glad to put this material up on the web, if anyone is interested.

From: Anthony J. Bryant

I can't believe I've forgotten to mention this:

I'm the moderator of a (virtually dead) e-groups listserve group called, simply, "bungo."

It's been deathly quiet for a long time, but I welcome and encourage all interested to join and start discussing there any topics you might have on the subject of bungo, translation of same, or bungo education. We have a file site, as well, but as yet no files uploaded. I'd love to see people upload their course syllabi, class notes, etc.

I'll probably break down and put up the conjugation charts I created a year or so ago based on input from a few classes.

To see the e-groups listing for bungo, go to: http://www.egroups.com/group/bungo and feel free to sign up.

From: Norma Field

I'd like to offer one of my favorite grammar references: Kitahara Yasuo et al, eds., Nihon Bumpo Jiten (Yuseido 1981), though sadly, it's out of print with Yuseido's untimely demise. Its entries are extremely readable, and I've particularly profited from general entries on such topics as the principal grammarians' analysis of the language (i.e., the Hashimoto, Tokieda, Yamada, and Otsuki "grammars") as well as "new" theories (e.g., structural linguistics) as well as items such as "tense," "aspect," "voice" in relation to Japanese categories of analysis. The index is detailed and easy to use.

From: Ivo Smits

David Pollack mentioned Harold Henderson 1943 Handbook of Japanese Grammar There is another curio: An (I think) 19th century Latin grammar of Japanese, focusing on bungo and done --of course-- by a studious Jesuit. I have the reference in my Leiden office and can't reach it for another few months, but if anyone is interested I can look it up and let them know later.

I, too, look forward to seeing Richard Bowring's notes on the web. At Leiden, Erika de Poorter and I drew up a ' Basic Grammar of Classical Japanese '. It is in Dutch, but I have made a tentative English translation for classroom use at Yale. Basically, it is a drastic reworking of my old cram notes made when studying for my bungo exams, and contains lists of conjugations, suffixes and particles. It certainly is not a comprehensive grammatical treatise, but is intended as a learning aid and is a summary of grammars such as Oono Susumu's (see below). We always tell students to use 'proper' grammars as well. I am interested to know how others feel about the use of such cram notes in the classroom. Our Leiden students seem to do quite well with them.

Also, no one seems to have reacted to Norma Field's remark about a bungo grammar in Japanese. I'd like to hear some reactions to using grammars in Japanese. After all, students taking bungo classes usually know (some) modern Japanese... Two useful ones are: - Akimoto Morihide and Watanabe Terumichi, Shin koten no bunpou, Kyoto: Chuo Tosho, 1991. - Oono Susumu, ed., Shinpen bungo bunpou [Shinpan], Kyoto: Chuo Tosho, 1987.

Finally, Erika de Poorter and I also often use Bruno Lewin's Abriss der japanischen Grammatik (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1975 or earlier), which is useful as a reference work (you look up most things in it), but in German.

From: Norma Field

In response to Ivo Smits's observation that "Also, no one seems to have reacted to Norma Field's remark about a bungo grammar in Japanese,"

I should perhaps clarify that the Yuseido grammatical dictionary I referred to covers both bungo and kogo. Indeed, it's the relational scope that I appreciate about it. Since Ivo Smits referred to Ono Susumu's work, I might add that the extensive supplemental material by Ono in the Iwanami Kogo Jiten also makes for stimulating reading. I don't know what experts make of his explanation for the formal overlap of the "passive," "honorific," and "causative" forms, but it's the kind of discussion that can economically give us all a sense of the interpretive and speculative nature of grammatical rules.

With thanks to all for this valuable discussion

From: Janine Beichman

Isn't anyone else interested in seeing Royall's material on the web? I would be delighted to be able to peruse it--for my own use, first, and then perhaps for students' as well...

From: Laurel Rasplica Rodd

I second Janine's request. Plese do post the material, Royall!

From: Susan Matisoff

Both Royall's and Richard's materials, if possible, by all means! Please.

From: Jordi Escurriola

I join in the request about that material too! Please!

From: John R. Wallace

Just a reminder that McCullough's Bungo Manual was indexed by me in 1993 as a quick fix to the vexing problem Prof. Morrell mentions below. It is available beginning with the 3rd printing. I use this text primarily because of its price, but I find that its all-rômaji text and English grammar terms are so different from my other teaching materials that students don't incorporate it effectively in their class preparation. One of my first-year teaching goals anyway is to make a kogo jiten a familiar and pleasurable part of the reading process. (I still prefer Iwanami, but many students like dictionaries that give a modern translation of the examples such as Obunsha's or Shogakukan's.) Even undergraduates are willing to take this step, as long as they didn't feel they are penalized for getting bogged down sometimes. They seem fairly eager to be given situations where they can practice their language skills

From: Stephen M. Forrest

As we're all talking about the teaching of classical Japanese perhaps this is a good moment for a very simple survey. Inspired by a similar one on E. Bruce Brooks' Warring States Workshop discussion list about the teaching of wenyen to Chinese majors, I've been wondering what the statistics are for us. How do those universities that offer degrees in Japanese (or Oriental Studies [Japanese], etc.) incorporate bungo into the curriculum/requirements.

Since I'm asking the question, I'll answer first:
at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Japanese majors are NOT required (yet--but we're looking at possible change there) to read any premodern texts. Two introductory courses are offered (fall = basic grammar, spring = selected readings), and have a steady if small (5-10) enrollment. There is a listed prerequisite of 2 years of intensive Japanese (though this is waivable at the instructors discretion).

If a survey like this is too special-interest for pmjs, perhaps we could move it over to Tony Bryant's Bungo list (Michael? Tony?). . . It would be very interesting to hear about the situation in a Japanese university too: can you be a kokubun major without any more than high school kobun courses?

From: Stephen D. Miller

I'd prefer to have this discussion on PMJS, just because we've already started here.

Maybe we could include the textbooks and/or notes we're using in our survey?

At the University of Colorado, two semesters of classical Japanese language are offered at the undergraduate level. Students are not required to take either of them; they are a part of a "menu" of courses that students can choose from to fulfill their major requirements. The prerequisite for this course is three years of modern Japanese.

Since a year of "bungo" is also required for our graduate program, it seems that most semesters the class is composed mostly of graduate students who have not taken bungo as undergraduates. However, last year, in a class of 14, 6 were graduate students and 8 were undergrads. This was an exceptional year, however. This year there are 6 students (1 undergrad and 5 grad students). Following Ed Kamens lead, I've been using a Japanese high school kobun textbook for the last few years. While I liked this a lot, many of the undergrads were having problems relying entirely on a Japanese-language textbook. This year I've switched to Ikeda Tadashi's Classical Japanese Grammar Illustrated with Texts which I find to be the best overall English-language textbook available (or unavailable, since I couldn't find it anywhere!....Perhaps Bruce at the Michigan Center for Japanese Studies could be talked into republishing it?) We spend about 6-8 weeks on grammar before switching over to Taketori Monogatari and the Hôjôki. The second semester is spent reading a variety of texts from the Kokinshû to selections from Bashô.

I'm looking forward to hearing what others are doing/using!

From: Bjarke Frellesvig

I also think it would be a good idea to have the Bungo survey here. Let me outline what we do here at Oxford:

We have Classical Japanese as a compulsory part of the undergraduate course. The course itself is a four year single honours course. We have three teaching terms of eight weeks a year. We teach Classical Japanese from the second term in the second year, for approximately a term and a half. We read all of Hôjôki and chapter 137 from Tsurezuregusa.

The teaching is a mixture of 'lectures' (full class, less interaction) and 'tutorials' (small groups of one to four, more interaction). The undergraduates first have a few lectures on grammar. They then get seven or eight lectures going through some of the text (thus, appr. 10 hours total) . The rest of the text is covered in tutorials of which they have two a week (i.e. 24 hours total). Portions of the texts not covered in this way is left to self-study. They will be expected to know all of the text for examinations.

We use NKBZ text editions, supplemented with an annotated Japanese high school edition. We tell them about available grammars in English (and German) and encourage them to use Japanese reference books, such as the Shin-Meikai Kogo Jiten, in addition to the notes in the text editions. We also give them published translations of the texts into English.

After this, throughout their third and fourth years, undergraduates are given one class a week in 'unseen text'; about half of these classes have classical Japanese (but the students often don't know which beforehand). At their final examinations, one paper is a three hour translation of an unseen classical text.

This is the compulsory part of the course. In addition, they can take more classical Japanese as an option, reading a greater variety of texts. Numbers doing that vary greatly from year to year.

Let me finish by mentioning a wonderful book which I believe has not been mentioned yet here (at least in this discussion): George B Sansom's An Historical Grammar of Japanese. It is both accessible and comprehensive.

From: George Perkins

At Brigham Young, which has no graduate program, Majors are required to take one semester of classical Japanese (without the requirement, enrollment would likely be too small to carry the course). Paul Warnick and I alternate as teachers, but currently use the same syllabus. It is a brief survey course coverying such texts as Hôjôki, Heike monogatari, Oku no hosomichi, and Genji monogatari. Students are required to have finished third year Japanese courses. A majority of our majors have spent a couple of years in Japan.

[Two postings omitted here.]

From: Lewis Cook

[...] Steve Forrest refers to the discussion of classical Chinese pedagogy on Brooks' Warring States Working Group discussion list. This discussion is germane to ours, I think, since it was initiated by Brook's pointed observation that whereas no particularly cogent pedagogical evidence has been offered for assuming that a knowledge of modern Chinese is of much use for studying classical Chinese, two or 3 years of modern C. is the universal prerequisite for admission to a graduate program in classical C. in all N.A. and European institutions which offer training in that language. (Well, determining whether this was universally true was the object of the survey / discussion, but the results, as I recall, were that it certainly is.)

Are there cogent pedagogical reasons for making 2 or 3 years of modern Japanese -- this seems to be the prevailing convention --a prerequisite for the study of classical J? The conveniences of access to grammars and lexicons written in modern Japanese are undeniable, but is there anything else? I'm more than just curious: I have been asked by people who have no facility with (and no particular interest in learning) modern Japanese how they might go about learning to read Kokinshû or Genji, and have been wondering about the prospects of devising a suitable course of instruction (something a little more user-friendly than Waley's 'self-study' method). Comments, suggestions, rebuttals welcome.

From: H. Mack Horton

Dear Bjarke,

I've heard very good things about your book and wonder how I could acquire a copy?

From: Michael Watson

I couldn't be more pleased that the list is so active on a subject that is clearly of interest to so many of us. As list editor, though, I'd like to make a request.

I am sure that Richard Bowring and Royall Tyler were gratified to see how many people wrote in to request that they publish their bungo (kobun) notes/anthologies online. I hope Ivo Smits also received off-list requests--if not, let me say how much I'd like to see the Leiden notes too. A show of hands in favour was very useful. But now let's leave them in peace to mull over whether to go public, with how much and when.

By the way, I presume the book by Byarke Frelleswig referred to by Mack Horton to is:

A case study in diachronic phonology: the Japanese Onbin sound changes / Bjarke Frellesvig. - Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1995. - 168 p. ill., map.; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [164]-168). ISBN 87-7288-489-4. DKK 198.00

It can be ordered directly from the Danish publishers at (click "Authors" then "F" then "Frellesvig").

From: Mary Louise Nagata

I am a bit late to this discussion, so I missed the survey. I actually studied classical Chinese without studying modern Chinese. Since I was short on time and had already proved fluent in both modern and classical Japanese together with somehow managing with komonjo, the professors in the department let me take the course without the Chinese prerequisite. I must admit that I found myself handicapped somewhat. Mainly because the professor and other students would refer to the characters in their Chinese reading which I did not know. Nevertheless, I could squeak through. As for classical Japanese, I do not have an opinion here. I did hear from one former professor of mine that she managed to learn classical Japanese without much understanding of modern Japanese. She had a humorous story of gaining a fellowship to study at Tôdai for a year and trying to shop with her classical version. So, I guess it can be done, but my feeling is that the student would also miss out much of the commentary and discussion by Japanese scholars regarding the texts, interpretations and changes over the centuries of the older texts. I would also like to hear other opinions on this.

From: David Pollack

I'm not sure the analogy holds, but I doubt most non-Greeks who have studied classical Greek have ever needed or bothered to learn the modern language. I am sure that biblical Hebrew is studied by classicists without reference to the modern language, and perhaps even Latin is studied without reference to the Romance languages. It seems clear to me that wenyan (typically the philosophical texts, but of course there are a wide range of styles) can be studied without knowing modern Chinese, though if one is studying the vernacular styles, even as early as the Tang period, one might as well be studying modern Chinese (Chan texts are especially close to the modern vernacular). There is no doubt that to learn to read a Chinese newspaper amounts to learning a certain amount of "literary" if not exactly "classical" Chinese. This was of course true of Meiji Japanese as well. The disjunction between the current written idiom and the ancient styles of bungo seems huge, though of course narrowing over time. I can well imagine that someone might study Genji without knowing modern Japanese, though as has been pointed out, it obviously makes the process much easier if one can read modern commentaries. If one wanted to read only waka (but what about the kotobagaki?) it might even be helpful not to know the modern language -- gendaiyaku translations of poems are often helpful, but they also distort and mask whatever might be taken as the "original" meaning (hermeneutic note: if such a notion can have any meaning).

[At the University of Rochester] we used to have majors take a semester of bungo, the first few part given to grammar with examples from various texts, the second to readings in a range of texts from Hôjôki to Bashô. But in an exclusively undergrad program with no grad component, and with students always clamoring for more "pertinent" material, it came to seem less useful, and alas we canned it in favor of a fourth-year "advanced readings" course. Even if students want to read modern literature, while they would have had to know some bungo to read pre-war authors, it's sort of neko ni koban (well, mottainai anyway) for the likes of Banana and Haruki....

From: Michael Wachutka

I have been following the bungo conversation with much interest, and I'd like to make a late addition of some books which I believe have not been mentioned yet here:

Ivo Smits referred to Bruno Lewin's Abriss der japanischen Grammatik (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz), which I also think is one of the best grammatical reference works (by the way, I think to make use of the many available good German works should not be a problem for scholars on Japan above a certain level!).

This book can be perfectly combined - and is intended for that matter - with Bruno Lewin's Japanische Chrestomathie: von der Nara-Zeit bis zur Edo-Zeit (2 vol., Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1965). Vol. 1 contains textual and historical introduction and romaji-transcription with extensive commentary and grammatical notes of 66 different texts (= 66 chapters) of all styles from Nara to Edo period (vol. 2 contains these texts in Japanese script). In combination, these two books of Lewin can be used for a very comprehensive coursework for beginning to advanced students of bungo (I used them in my own bungo-classes with considerable success).

Two other works (one also in German, one in English) that are still helpful, although somewhat dated and more specialized, are:

Florenz, Karl: Woerterbuch zur altjapanischen Liedersammlung Kokinshu (Hamburg: Friedrichsen & Co, 1925). This work by the great German philologist and historian of Japan, explains nearly all words of the Kokinshu poetry-collection within their grammatical context, and is based on a joint research with Basil Hall Chamberlain.

Pierson, J.L.: Key to Classical Japanese: A list of inflected and un-inflected suffixes and particles of the 7th and 8th century (Leiden: E.J. Brill 1956) The explanations in this book are of course mainly based on Man'yoshu examples, but also on other ancient texts.

From: Bjarke Frellesvig

Michael Wachutka makes an interesting comment: "by the way, I think to make use of the many available good German works should not be a problem for scholars on Japan above a certain level!". On the other hand, an earlier mention (I think it was Ivo Smits) of Lewin's Abriss had "BUT in German" (my emphasis).

This is interesting in the light of the discussion about what languages to know. There is no doubt to me that you can be a classical scholar without being able to read modern Greek. And of course you can learn classical Japanese without knowing modern Japanese (after all, that is what the classical Japanese did); there is, however, also little doubt that you would not be very successful in pursuing research or scholarship in/on classical Japanese without being able to use reference materials in modern Japanese.

Furthermore, you could not really be a classical scholar without being able to read German. This is not controversial, I believe. However, Michael's assertion may be. I would personally tend to go one step further. Not being able to use German would seem to me to be almost as bad a handicap in research on premodern Japan as not being able to use modern Japanese; they were simply so many years ahead of the rest of us - especially in the prewar years, but also for some time after - that consulting the scholarly literature in German is necessary. Imagine, for example, wanting to do research on Senmyoo without being able to consult Zachert.

In his review of Wenck's Japanische Phonetik, Samuel Martin regretted that this work had been published in German. One would of course agree that is it is highly counterproductive for German (or Danish, French, Italian, Dutch, ...) scholars not to publish in English if we/they want our/their scholarship to be accessible to the international scholarly community, but it is interesting to note that Martin's reason for regret was that Wenck's Phonetik would be less accessible to Japanese scholars.

as of 2000/09/24, pmjs editor <watson@k.meijigakuin.ac.jp>
Address of this page:http://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/~pmjs/archive/bungorefs.html