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Japanese P-phoneme

From:Emily Zilch <emily0@...>
Date:Saturday, June 12, 2004, 7:32
{ 20040611,2159 | Nik Taylor }

"Japanese has a pretty symmetrical *phonemic* inventory: [ snip... ]
With some degree of asymmetry in *distribution* in native roots: /p/
only occurs geminated or post-nasal [ snip... ] /h/ never geminated or
after a nasal in the same morpheme, almost never morpheme-medial
(Sino-Japanese as well), there are a few exceptions to that last

While it is controversial in terms of its acceptability to native
speakers, some linguists prefer to state this as a single phoneme.
Historically it was originally just /p/: in certain environments, this
/p/ remains in modern Japanese (geminated or post-nasal) but has been
weakened to /h/ initially, lost intervocalically (leaving in Modern
Japanese long vowels or two-vowel combinations. Here are examples of

1. OJ *opo "great, honorific" > Middle J ofo > MJ [ ou ] (that's how a
vowel of long duration is written, i.e. /o:/; long e is [ ei ] /e:/)

2. OJ *saburapi "servant" > Middle J samurafi "retainer" (with
spontaneous b > m; voiced consonants and their nasal equivalents
interchanged not uncommonly in the premodern era) > MJ samurai "warrior
class, etc.". In some dialects, this also becomes a monophthong, with
either /e:/ or /&:/.

In some Ryuukyuuan (Okinawan) dialects, /p/ is maintained in all



Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>