Japanese Studies BA2 | Leiden University
Kinship terms in the Japanese and Dutch language
Guan van Zoggel (0822507) Instructor: dr. R. J. Länsisalmi
KINSHIP TERMS IN THE JAPANESE AND DUTCH LANGUAGE This paper presents a comparison between the usage of kinship terms of address and reference in the Japanese and Dutch language. In the first part of the paper, an outline will be given regarding the uses of kinship terms in both Japanese and Dutch, emphasizing the former one due to its complex nature and dependence on the context. In the second part, an attempt will be made to compare kinship terms from both languages in order to determine to what extent respect in attitude towards kins in its terminology can be distinguished. The scope of this paper will be limited to kinship terminology within families, disregarding related terms used in companies. When the Japanese language is discussed in this paper, it refers to Standard Japanese (hyōjungo, 標 準 語 ), as it is taught in schools and used in official communication, and disregards regional differences which may affect the terminology of relationships. The foremost reason why Dutch will be used as the second language is because it is my mother tongue and a language I am utmost familiar with as I have been raised in a Dutch environment. In addition, Dutch has a 54 percent correlation with English regarding identical kinship term-types, which can be considered relatively high (Edmonson, 1957: 402). It might be relevant to include my own experiences with Dutch kinship terms, for I do not have to depend solely on data collected in researches conducted by other scholars. JAPANESE KINSHIP TERMS Before moving on to the topic of discussing the kinship terminology in Japanese, one should be aware of the Japanese perception of social groups. The Japanese make a distinction between people that are in their so-called in-groups (uchi うち , inside), which in most cases refer to family members, and out-groups (soto そ と , outside, or yoso よ そ , another place), people outside the family. Another distinction within the terminology of kinship that one should take into account is address terms, which are used by the speaker to address the listener, and reference terms, used by the speaker to refer to someone who is not present at the time of the conversation. In her book Japanese Language in Use: An Introduction (2007), Toshiko Yamaguchi divides this system of terminology in five basic relationships, illustrated by additional scenarios to support her examples: “(i) out → in (R), (ii) in → in (R), (iii) in → out (R), (iv) out → in (A), and (v) in → in (A),” (Yamaguchi, 2007: 139) in which (R) refers to reference terms and (A) to address terms. In order to enhance the meaning of Yamaguchi's scheme, I 2
shall be introducing the kinships terms of father next (see Table 1).
In → Out ちち・おやじ はは・おふくろ あに・あにき あね・あねき そふ そぼ おじ おば おとうと いもうと むすこ むすめ おい めい しゅじん・おっと・だん な・ていしゅ・ハズ かない・つま・ワイフ
In → In おとうさん おかあさん おにいさん おねえさん おじいさん おばあさん おじいさん おばあさん [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] *あなた・おとうさん・[name] *おまえ・おかあさん・[name]
Out → In おとうさん・おとうさま おかあさん・おかあさま おにいさん おねえさん おじいさん おばあさん おじいさん おばあさん おとうとさん いもうとさん ごしそくさま・むすこさま・む こさん・ おじょうさま・むすめさん・お むすめさん
Meaning father mother elder brother elder sister grandfather grandmother uncle aunt younger brother younger sister son daughter nephew niece
Table 1: Kinship reference and address forms in Japanese Bold indicates both (R) and (A); plain indicates (R) only; * asterisks indicates (A) only.
In the case of (i) and (iv), a person from the out-group will address or refer to someone's father with either otōsan ( お父さん ) or otōsama ( お父様 ), the latter more polite than the former. In (ii) and (v), otōsan will be used for either addressing and referring to the father. Finally, in the case of (iii), the speaker shall be using chichi ( 父 ) or oyaji ( 親 父 ) to refer to his or her own father, the former more polite than the latter one. In other words, the kinship terms for 'out → in' and 'in → in' can basically be used for both addressing and referring, while the terms for 'in → out' can only be used for reference. If we move on to the second table (Table 1, below the horizontal line) published by Yamaguchi, a remarkable difference can be found in the list for 'in → in' terms. The words used for addressing or referring to younger brother and sister, son and daughter, nephew and niece, and husband and wife (group B) are being replaced by his or her name, in contrary to the more formal and less personal terms used to indicate father and mother, elder brother and sister, grandfather and grandmother, and uncle and aunt (group A).
1 Yamaguchi, Toshiko, 2007. Japanese Language in Use: An Introduction, p. 141
Yamaguchi gives no further explanation for this change of terms, but it can be assumed this is related to the common Japanese perception of respecting elders, in both behavior and words. For example, all kins from group B, however, are in general younger than the speaker and addressed of referred to by their first name within their in-group. Kins listed in group A are in most cases older than the speaker and are being addressed or referred to by lexical terms that include the prefix of politeness, o- (お) within their in-group. As a side note, the honorific prefix go- (ご, 御) is used in most cases for Sino-Japanese words, although this a rule of thumb. This prefix, however, can be considered to be relatively new to the Japanese language. According to History of Japan ( 日本の歴史 ; 1985), a manga highlighted by Yamaguchi in her book, subtle differences can be distinguished regarding 'in → in' kinship terms in manga that have been published shortly after World War II (Yamaguchi, 2007: 413-144) . When the father returns from his work, his son refers to him with tōsan ( 父 さ ん ), which lacks the prefix of politeness. A similar construction is the way in which a mother refers to herself in the presence of her children by using kaasan ( 母さん ). A grandfather addresses his grandson by susume (進め), without the standard addition of a suffix (for example: -san (-さん) or -kun (-く
The foremost reason why I put such an emphasis on this particular column of 'in → in' of Yamaguchi's table is because it is related to the research question posed earlier in this paper and bears relevance to the comparison with Dutch kinship terms. DUTCH KINSHIP TERMS The Dutch do not have the same level of awareness regarding social groups as the Japanese do, so they tend to make only the common distinction between family and friends, and strangers. Therefore, in this section of the paper the focus will be exclusively on the kinship terms used to address and refer to someone. As with Japanese, there are also lots of regional differences in Dutch kinship terminology, but these will not be discussed. In general, a father will be addressed by vader (father) or by the more colloquial terms pap (dad) or pappa (daddy), while for referencing only vader will be used. When a term is used to refer to a kin, it is always preceded by a possessive adjective, like mijn (my), jouw (your) or zijn (his), which is similar to the system used in English. If one decides to omit this possessive adjective, it gives an old-fashioned feel to the term, although it will be understood by the listener. Even though terms used for mother follow the same pattern, the usage of
kinship terms is less consistent than the Japanese equivalents.
Address vader, pa, pap, pappa moeder, ma, mam, mamma [name] [name] opa, opa [name], opa [last name] oma, oma [name], oma [last name] oom [name], ome [name] tante [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] [name] Reference vader moeder broer, [name] zus, [name] grootvader, opa, opa [name], opa [last name] grootmoeder, oma, oma [name], oma [last name] oom [name], ome [name] tante [name] broertje, [name] zusje, [name] zoon, [name] dochter, [name] neef, neefje, [name] nicht, nichtje, [name] man, [name] vrouw, [name] Meaning father mother elder brother elder sister grandfather grandmother uncle aunt younger brother younger sister son daughter nephew niece husband wife
Table 2: Kinship reference and address forms in Dutch
ANALYZING AND COMPARING For comparing kinship terminology in the Japanese and Dutch language, I shall draw the data from Table 1 (p. 3) and Table 2, which have been discussed in the first section of this paper, and compare this first vertically (as columns), then horizontally (as rows). The horizontal line marks the point where Table 4.4 and Table 4.5 from Yamaguchi's book (Yamaguchi, 2007: 141) has been fused together and divides the data of kins older than the speaker (upper part) and younger than the speaker (lower part). By comparing both tables vertically, one will notice immediately that about half of the Japanese kins within the 'in → in' group address (and refer to) each other with their name, while the Dutch can address every kin but father and mother by name. Sometimes, however, it is preceded by a prefix like opa (grandpa) or oom/ome (uncle), followed by his first of last name. This makes the usage of kinship terms in Dutch more personal than in Japanese, where kinship terms arguably seem to inherently feature a social status or function. In Japanese, there is a high level of consistency within 'in → in' conversations between address and reference terms. In the list of terms to address of refer to a family member, only anata ( あ な た , husband) and omae ( お 前 , wife) are exclusively used for the 5
purpose of addressing. A high level of consistency can also be found in the list of 'out → in' groups. As mentioned before, there is no possibility to address someone in the situation of 'in → out', so this column will be ignored for now. The consistency of usage of kinship terms in Dutch is much lower than their Japanese equivalents. A Dutch person will most likely address his elder brother or sister by their respective names, while this person will refer to these by mijn broer (my brother) or mijn zus (my sister), unless talking to someone who actually knows the speaker's brother of sister by name. This pattern is used for every family member but father and mother. It is unlikely to address or refer to your own or someone else's parents by their name. Another, purely linguistic consistency that can be derived from the table of Japanese kinship terms is the amount of morae for each term: until the horizontal line, all terms from 'in → in' and 'out → in' category consist of five morae, of which the first mora is in all cases the prefix of politeness o- and final two morae either the suffix -san or -sama (様). Therefore, the second and third morae from each term express the actual meaning of the word and which are often written in Chinese characters or kanji (disregarded in Table 1). In the terms from the 'in → out' group a similar consistency of two morae per term can be observed, neglecting the given alternatives. After the break, the overall consistency is missing albeit terms can still be vertically divided into groups of two by sorting the morae. In Dutch no such consistency can be found in the family kinship terms. A significant reason for this is the classification of languages: although it is unanimously accepted that the Dutch language belongs to the West Germanic languages and shows strong resemblance with other languages from the same classification (as shown in Table 3 below), linguists have yet to agree unanimously to what category the Japanese languages belong (Shibatani, 1990: 94).
Dutch vader broer grootvader
German Vater Bruder Großvater
Swedish far, fader broder farfar, morfar
English father elder brother grandfather
Japanese chichi, otōsan ani, aniki, oniisan sofu, ojiisan
Table 3: Differences in kinship terms between West Germanic languages, English and Japanese
By comparing both appendices horizontally, more research question related data can be derived from the tables. If we take a look at the terms used to refer to one's mother from the 'in → out' group, we can see both haha ( 母 ) and ofukuro ( お 袋 ) are being used, the former categorized as humble (kenjōgo, 謙譲語 ) and latter as colloquial. Only okaasan ( お母さん ) is 6
listed under 'in → in', which features a honorific or respectful connotation (keigo, 敬語). For addressing or referring to one's mother according the third column, one should be using either okaasan or okaasama (お母さま), of which the latter features an even higher level of honor or respect. Basically, this pattern of classification (humble or colloquialism for 'in → out' and honor or respect for both 'in → in' and 'out → in') is utilized for all family members older than the speaker. A change can be distinguished from the second part of the table, which will be illustrated by the example of younger brother. In the case of 'in → out', he is referred to with otōto ( 弟 ), a humble term. His name is used to both address and refer to him according the column for 'in → in', usage which may be related to the level of colloquialism. In the third column for 'out → in', one will use otōtosan ( 弟 さ ん ), a honorific term. Albeit some minor alterations can be observed in the table, this pattern of classification (humble for 'in → out', name (colloquialism) for 'in → in' and honorific for 'out → in') is used for kins younger than the speaker. This analysis of classification will be summarized in Table 4:
In → Out humble/colloquialism humble
In → In honorific/respectful name (colloquialism)
Out → In honorific/respectful honorific/respectful
Age Older than ego Younger than ego
Table 4: Classification of kinship terms for social groups in comparison to the age of the speaker in Japanese
A similar pattern of classification can be found in Dutch, though it depends on generation instead of age. According to Table 2, kins who are from a previous generation in comparison to the speaker are addressed or referred to by a kinship term, sometimes followed by their name. Parents are never addressed or referred to by their name. Family members from the same or a younger generation are always addressed by their name and referred to by either the proper kinship term or name (depending on whether the listener knows the kin). Summary of this data:
Address term term [name] [name]
Reference term term [name] term, [name]
Generation Parents Older than ego Younger than ego
Table 5: Classification of kinship terms in comparison to the generation of the speaker in Dutch
CONCLUSION So far, data drawn from various sources regarding kinship terminology in the Japanese and Dutch language has been analyzed, discussed and compared in order to determine to what extent respect in attitude towards kins in its terminology can be distinguished. In conclusion, I will present my findings based on this paper. The distinction between in- and out-groups in Japan has proven to be of significant importance while researching the subject of kinship terminology. According to the data, people from the out-group will in all times approach members of the in-group in a honorific and respectful manner of speech. Within the in-group, the speaker proves to share the same level of respect towards kins elder than him or her, while a more colloquial and personal level of speech is used towards family members that are younger. When the speaker refers to a family member, most likely a humble term is used to indicate both kins older and younger than the speaker, although occassionally a colloquial term is used. The lack of this strong perception of social groups makes it less difficult to research the topic of kinship terminology in Dutch. It is highly unlikely the speaker will address or refer to his or her parents by their names, so virtually in every case the respective term is used. When the speaker addresses or refers to kins from a previous generation (other than parents, that is), either a term or a term followed by a name is being used. When the listener is engaged in a conversation while not knowing the person in question, the name will be omitted. This is the same for referring to family members from the same or a younger generation, although these will be addressed by merely their name. In general, addressing a kin by using a term is considered to be more respectful than name only.
Edmonson, Munro S., 1957. “Kinship Terms and Kinship Concepts” in American Anthropologist, 343-372. Shibatani, Masayoshi. (1990). The languages of Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p 94. Yamaguchi, Toshiko, 2007. Japanese Language in Use: An Introduction. London: Continuum. pp. 121-168.