Phonetic naturalness and unnaturalness in Japanese loanword phonology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper argues that phonetic naturalness and unnaturalness can interact within a single grammatical system. In Japanese loanword phonology, only voiced geminates, but not voiced singletons, devoice to dissimilate from another voiced obstruent. The neutralizability difference follows from a ranking which Japanese speakers created on perceptual grounds: Ident(voi)Sing » Ident(voi)Gem. On the other hand, the trigger of devoicing-OCP(voi)-has no phonetic underpinning because voicing does not have phonetic characteristics that would naturally lead to confusion-based dissimilation (Ohala, Proceedings of Chicago Linguistic Society: Papers from the parasession on language and behaviour, 1981, in: Jones (ed.) Historical linguistics: Problems and perspectives, 1993). OCP(voi) in Modern Japanese originated as a phonetically natural OCP(prenasal) in Old Japanese because the spread out heavy nasalization would lead to perceptual confusion, but it divorced from its phonetic origin when prenasalization became voicing. The interaction of the three constraints in Modern Japanese suggests that phonetic naturalness (the ranking Ident(voi)Sing » Ident(voi) Gem) and unnaturalness (OCP(voi)) co-reside within a single module.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of East Asian Linguistics
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

phonology
phonetics
ranking
linguistics
Naturalness
Loanword Phonology
Idents
interaction
language
Confusion
Voicing
Ranking

Keywords

  • Dissimilation
  • Perceptibility
  • Phonetic (un)naturalness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Phonetic naturalness and unnaturalness in Japanese loanword phonology. / Kawahara, Shigeto.

In: Journal of East Asian Linguistics, Vol. 17, No. 4, 12.2008, p. 317-330.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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