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278 GOIKŌ Kamo no Mabuchi | ca. 1764 [Mabuchi divides this grammatically oriented essay into three sections: overview, verbal conjugations, and etymology. He compares Japanese to the languages of China and India and concludes that the language of Japan is superior, because it has as few as fifty sounds, compared to the complex languages of China and India; this demonstrates, he asserts, that the hearts of the people anciently were straightforward and simple, and so their language reflected the state of their hearts. Thus the ancient people had less to say than people in other countries.] PREFACE Yes, there are bad people in the world, and Mr. So-and-So writes something or Mr. Such and Such proposes a certain theory, damaging the reputation of a good person. There are many scholars who deceive and spread falsehoods, so why not have the reader judge the merits and demerits of the theory contained in this work, Goikō, on his own? The words of our elderly master, Mabuchi, are very clear. This late great man was my teacher, and this work is one of the Five Treatises. For years his disciples have transmitted his work in the form of a handwritten manuscript, but a bookseller in Kyōto named Nishimura something or other was able to obtain the manuscript from the Kamo family, and recently brought this work out in printed form. He asked me to write a few lines for a small preface to add to the work. The worthy words of my master are as follows. Motoori Norinaga GOIKŌ 1 This land of the rising sun is a country of people who created words using only fifty sounds. The ancients transmitted everything orally using these sounds. The land far from the sun [in other words, China] is a country of signs representing all their words through the use of characters. The land where the sun sets [in other words India1 ] is a country representing the 1. The court of Emperor Suiko sent a famous letter to the emperor of China in 607, MABUCHI | Goikō279 pronunciation of its language with fifty characters. Therefore, those who doubt that Japan was the only country not to have employed characters are scholarly puerile. The reason [for their doubts] is because of their affinity for the Chinese and their ingenuity, creating many homonyms in their language , making it impossible to tell what a word means without seeing the character. Nevertheless, it is terribly disgusting to create characters for the multitude of sounds in a language. The people in India take pleasure in pondering things in minute detail, and there are many phrases and sounds. Perhaps that is the reason they used characters, also. But with just fifty characters representing fifty sounds, India is able to express anything. They have thought deeply and in detail about this principle. In this land of the rising sun, too, since the hearts of the Japanese are sincere, there have been few tasks, and thus, few words. With few tasks and few words, the ancients avoided confusion, there never being a time when people forgot things. Thus, Japan only has fifty sounds that naturally came into existence when the kami formed heaven and earth. Why would someone bring man-­ made characters to our country? Nevertheless, the people who claim that Japan has fifty organized sounds because this was originally based upon the system in India are insipid. Was it that the ancient people in Japan did not say anything? Our father and mother of heaven and earth taught us the art of speaking. Therefore, it appears that these fifty sounds came into existence without our knowledge. Those scholars who believe the Japanese phonetic system came from India have not considered the state in the ancient period. They create this problem because these scholars do not know anything about their own country’s ancient past, spending all their time studying foreign countries. The practice of learning from India started in the reign of the Owarida Palace,2 and later the commoner followed the court in learning about this country. Before that time, scholars introduced Chinese learning to our court during the reign of the Karushima Palace.3 This occurred at the height of divine liturgies or ancient songs vocalized by the ancient Japanese . Setting aside the fifty sounds of Japanese,4 the hearts of men changed, and their words became empty expressions, and this laid the foundation which started off with the words, “The Child of Heaven of the country where...


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