Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Fellow and Tutor in Oriental Studies (Japanese Linguistics)

Professor of Japanese Linguistics

Oriental Studies
MA Ph.D.

Bjarke was an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Copenhagen where he studied Japanese and Linguistics. He received his Ph.D. there in 1993. Before coming to Oxford in 1999 he worked at the University of Copenhagen and at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Undergraduate teaching 

Bjarke teaches undergraduate tutorials in Japanese and particularly in Classical Japanese and japanese Linguistics. He lectures in the Oriental Studies Faculty on the History and Structure of Japanese and on Old Japanese.

Postgraduate teaching 

Bjarke teaches premodern Japanese and Japanese linguistics and language history for graduate degrees in Japanese (both in the Humanities Division and in the Social Science Division) and in Linguistics. He also supervises research students within Japanese language and linguistics, in the Oriental Studies Faculty and in the Faculty for Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.


Bjarke has worked and published primarily on the history and pre-history of the Japanese language. His book A history of the Japanese language (published 2010 by Cambridge University Press) gives a comprehensive overview over the history of the Japanese language as it is reflected in written sources, going back to the beginning of the 8th century AD. You can watch Bjarke talk about the book on YouTube by clicking here. He has published widely on a number of specific issues within Japanese historical phonology and morphology and on the reconstruction of proto-Japanese. Since 2009 much of his work has been on the syntax of Old Japanese, as the Principal Investigator of a large international collaborative research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He is also the Project Director of a related project, The Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese which has been adopted by the British Academy as an Academy Research Project. This project aims to compile a digital corpus of all texts from the Old Japanese period (8th century), annotated with a rich variety of linguistic and other information about the texts, and also to develop an Old Japanese - English dictionary. Both of these projects include collaboration with scholars from the UK, elsewhere in Europe, Japan and the US. He is also involved in a number of collaborative research projects based in Japan. A large publication project, of which Bjarke is one of the three editors, is the two volume Handbook of Japanese Historical Linguistics which will be published by Mouton in 2016, and which will include contributions from around 50 authors.

 Bjarke is the Director of the University’s Research Centre for Japanese Language and Linguistics. He is also President of the European Association of Japanese Studies.



  • 2013. B Frellesvig, P Sells (eds.) Japanese/Korean Linguistics 20. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
  • 2012. B Frellesvig, J Kiaer, J Wrona (eds.) Studies in Japanese and Korean Linguistics. London: Lincom.
  • 2010. B Frellesvig A history of the Japanese language. Cambridge University Press. Now available in paperbackYou Tube video.
  • 2008. B Frellesvig, J Whitman (eds.) Proto-Japanese: Issues and prospects (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 294). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • 2007. B Frellesvig, M Shibatani, JC Smith (eds.) Current issues in the history and structure of Japanese. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.
  • 1997. B Frellesvig, R Starrs (eds.) Japan and Korea: Contemporary Studies. Proceedings of the Fourth Nordic Symposium on Japanese And Korean Studies. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.
  • 1996. B Frellesvig, CM Hermansen (eds.) Florilegium Japonicum. Studies Presented to Olof G. Lidin on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.
  • 1995. B Frellesvig A Case Study in Diachronic Phonology: the Japanese Onbin Sound Changes. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

Articles and book chapters

  • 2016. B Frellesvig, J Whitman “The Historical Source of the Bigrade Transitivity Alternations in Japanese”. Transitivity and Valency Alternations: Studies on Japanese and Beyond, edited by T Kageyama and W Jacobsen, pp. 289-310. De Gruyter Mouton.
  • 2015. B Frellesvig, S Horn, Y Yanagida “Differential object marking in Old Japanese: A corpus based study.” In Historical Linguistics 2013: Selected papers from the 21st International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Oslo, 5-9 August 2013, edited by D Haug, pp. 195-211. John Benjamins.
  • 2015. B Frellesvig “Why romanize a corpus of (Old) Japanese?”.コーパスと日本語史研究 Corpus-Based Historical Studies in Japanese, edited by Y Kondo, M Tanaka, T Ogiso, pp. 167-175. Hituzi Syobo Publishing.
  • 2014. B Frellesvig “Okkusufoodo joodai nihongo koopasu [オックスフォード上代日本語コーパス The Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese]”. Nihongogaku [published by Meiji Shoin], 33/14, pp. 42-54.
  • 2013. B Frellesvig “Remarks on the verb suru in Old Japanese – A corpus based study. 上代日本語の「スル」について -- コーパスによる研究”. NINJAL Project ReviewVol.3 No. 3, pp. 152-77.
  • 2013. B Frellesvig, SW Horn, KL Russell, P Sells “Provisional and Conditional Clauses in Old Japanese.” Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 67, edited by Umut Ozge, pp. 65-78.
  • 2013. B Frellesvig “私が薦めるケンブリッジ大学出版局の本 The languages of Japan (Masayoshi Shibatani) [Watashi ga susumeru Kenburijji Daigaku Shuppankyoku no hon: The languages of Japan (Masayoshi Shibatani)]”. Daigaku Shuppan 93, 16-17. Tokyo.
  • 2012. B Frellesvig “Chronological layering in proto-Japanese and pre-Old Japanese verb inflection”, Frellesvig, Kiaer, Wrona (eds.) Studies in Japanese and Korean Linguistics, pp. 28-47.
  • 2011. B Frellesvig , J Whitman “Prenominal Complementizers and the Derivation of Complex NPs in Japanese and Korean”, McClure, van Dikken (eds.) Japanese/Korean Linguistics 18, pp. 73-87.
  • 2010. B Frellesvig, SW Horn, KL Russell, P Sells “Verb Semantics and Argument Realization in Pre-Modern Japanese: A Preliminary study of Compound Verbs in Old Japanese”. Gengo Kenkyū 138:25-65.
  • 2009. B Frellesvig , J Wrona “The Old Japanese case system: The function of wo”. Japanese/Korean Linguistics 17, ed. by Shoichi Iwasaki et al., pp. 565-579.
  • 2008. B Frellesvig, J Whitman “The Japanese/Korean Vowel Correspondences”. Japanese/Korean Linguistics 13, ed. by Mutsuko Endo Hudson et al., pp. 15-28. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
  • 2008. B Frellesvig, J Whitman “Evidence for seven vowels in proto-Japanese”. Frellesvig, Whitman (eds.) Proto-Japanese, pp.15-41.
  • 2008. B Frellesvig, “On reconstruction of proto-Japanese and pre-Old Japanese verb inflection”. Frellesvig, Whitman (eds.) Proto-Japanese, pp. 175-92.
  • 2007. B Frellesvig “On the verb morphology of Old Japanese”, Frellesvig, Shibatani, Smith (eds.) Current issues in the history and structure of Japanese, pp. 219-52.
  • 2006. B Frellesvig “The haunted log-palace: a new interpretation of a passage in the Hôjôki”. Anderl, Eifring (eds.) Studies in Chinese language and culture: festschrift in honour of Christoph Harbsmeier on the occasion of his 60th birthday, pp. 107-20. 
  • 2005. B Frellesvig “The verb morphology of Old Japanese”. Nanzan Linguistics 2, 106-13.
  • 2004. B Frellesvig, J Whitman. “The vowels of Proto-Japanese”. Japanese Language and Literature 38, 281-99.
  • 2001. B Frellesvig “A common Korean and Japanese copula”. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 10/1, 1-35.
  • 2000. B Frellesvig “Recent Changes in the Tonology of Kyoto Japanese”. Smith, Bentley (eds.) Historical Linguistics 1995, Volume 1: General issues and non-Germanic Languages. Selected papers from the 12th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Manchester, August 1995 (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 161), pp. 111-124.
  • 1999. B Frellesvig “The Prosodic Shape of ‑mono Derivatives in Kyoto Japanese”. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 31, 91-124.
  • 1998. B Frellesvig “A common Korean and Japanese noun particle: Korean ulo :: Japanese to”. Park, Yoon (eds.) Selected Papers from the 11th International Conference on Korean Linguistics - July 6-9, 1998, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, pp. 336-45. Seoul.
  • 1998. B Frellesvig “Accent, Word Tone and Metatony in Central Japanese”. On'in Kenkyuu / Phonological Studies (published by the Phonological Society of Japan) 1, 195-202.
  • 1997. B Frellesvig “Japansk”. Aschehoug og Gyldendals Store Norske Leksikon 8, 106-7. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget.
  • 1997. B Frellesvig “Koreansk”. Aschehoug og Gyldendals Store Norske Leksikon 9, 97. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget.
  • 1996. B Frellesvig “On the Interpretation of Written Sources as Evidence for the Phonology of Earlier Language Stages - with special regard to the reconstruction of early Old Japanese”. Copenhagen Working Papers in Linguistics 3, 97-131.
  • 1996. B Frellesvig “Review” of Diversity in Japanese Culture and Language, ed. by John C. Maher and Gaynor Macdonald, London & New York: Kegan Paul International, 1995. The Pacific Review 9/1, 137-9.
  • 1996. B Frellesvig, L Littrup. “Søren Christian Egerod. 8. juli 1923 - 21. april 1995”. Årbog 1995. Københavns Universitet, 807-12.
  • 1995. B Frellesvig “A Cultured Encounter: Dr Thunberg meets Mr Matsuhiro”. Clausen, Starrs, Weddell-Wedellsborg (eds.) Cultural Encounters: China, Japan, and the West , pp. 109-25.
  • 1994. B Frellesvig “Morphemic Tone and Word Tone in Central Japanese”. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 27, 147-61.
  • 1994. B Frellesvig “On the Misconception That Kanzi Are Ideograms - and some general implications for the teaching and learning of kanzi”. Sørensen, Stebbing (eds.) Proceedings of Nordic Symposium on Teaching Japanese - Methods and Improvements, 21 - 23 August, 1993, pp. 94-104.
  • 1991. B Frellesvig “The Consonants of Old Japanese - a phonological interpretation”. Takeuchi (ed.) European Studies in Japanese Linguistics 1988-90, pp. 11-27.
  • 1989. B Frellesvig “The Emergence of the Syllable Final Nasal Phoneme in Japanese”. Folia Linguistica Historica VIII/1-2, 269-308.