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Re: Japanese P-phoneme

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Saturday, June 12, 2004, 8:06
Emily Zilch wrote:
> 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
That certainly is a possible interpretation. A very tiny number of compounds have /nh/, and there are a number of recent loans with ungemintaed non-postvocalic /p/, but in native words, that would be a very reasonable interpretation. Thus, we'd have only two fricatives /s/ and /z/, and even greater symmetry in phonemic inventory.
> 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:/)
Actually, /ei/ and /e:/ are still distinguished in many western dialects, although, as far as I know, /ou/ and /o:/ are merged in all dialects.
> In some Ryuukyuuan (Okinawan) dialects, /p/ is maintained in all > environments.
Yep. But, Ryukyuan is generally considered a distinct language.


Emily Zilch <emily0@...>Japanese P-phoneme, Ryuukyuuan