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Questions about Japanese historical phonology.

From:Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>
Date:Monday, August 23, 2004, 20:10
In my thumbing-through of a number of Japanese
grammars and wordlists, I've noticed a distinct
poverty of native words that possess a short [p], and
I must say, I am curious. I searched on Google and in
the archives, and have found nothing, so I turn to the
accumulated wisdom of the mailing list for an answer.

Did [p] shift to [h] at some point, as evidenced by
the order of the kana ([ha], [ba] <ha + voicing mark>,
[pa] <ha + circle>)? If so, about when did this occur?

While I'm at it, can someone show me what the
(reconstructed) phonetic inventory of the earlier
stages of Japanese was like? I've got quite a few
niggling little questions, like why there seems to be
quite a few words that switch nasals with voiced stops
in certain environments (like one of the verb
conjugations, which, for the life of me, I can't

Thanks, everyone.

"Alle Idole müssen sterben."
"All idols must die."

--Einstürzende Neubauten, "Seele Brennt" (Soul is on

"Where am I? What is this thing called 'the world'?
Who is it who has lured me into the thing, and now
leaves me here? How did I come into the world? Why was
I not consulted?"

--Søren Kierkegaard

"You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your
table and listen. You need not even listen, simply
wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and
solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to
be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy
at your feet."

--Franz Kafka, Journals


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Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
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