Role of Altaic, Chinese and European Vocabulary in Japanese Culture
(45th Meeting of the PIAC, Budapest 2002)
One of the peculiarities of the Japanese culture is the strict difference among three strata of the vocabulary. They are the Altaic stratum (including the most ancient borrowings), the stratum of the ancient borrowings from Chinese, and the stratum of the new borrowings from English and other European languages. Many words of different origin are synonyms but their place in the system is different. The Altaic stratum is connected with the sphere of everyday life, the Chinese stratum is connected with science, art, etc., the European stratum is connected with the sphere of prestigious consumption.