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Japanese phonemes

From:Garth Wallace <gwalla@...>
Date:Saturday, June 12, 2004, 21:52
Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> En réponse à william drewery : > >> > >> > It doesn't really have /f/, tho. [P] is an >> > allophone of /h/ >> > >> True. But I can't think of any voiced equivalent to >> it. I'm guessing it's that restriction again. > > > [B] can be found only in borrowings that come with [v] in it, and then > not for all speakers (many speakers borrow [v] as [b], Like Spanish :) > ). Still, [B] appears often enough to have a way to write it down (a > strange one at that. To write down a syllable beginning with [B], use > the katakana for u /M/, add to it the voicing sign, and follow it with a > small form of the katakana for the vowel of the syllable, except when > this vowel is /M/ itself :) ).
Heh. In this one case, it seems that katakana is an abugida!
> En réponse à Danny Wier : >
>> I think they're only used for foreign
>> words (that aren't Sino-Japanese). > > No they're not. Foreign [we] and [wi] sequences are usually borrowed as > [M.e] and [M.i], i.e. they become bisyllabic (I don't have any example > right now, but I do remember seeing such borrowings). If you find it > strange, it's actually not uncommon for Japanese to borrow single > syllables as bisyllables. All syllables with a consonantic non-nasal > coda are borrowed that way ("up" is borrowed as |appu| for instance). > > The ban on [we] and [wi] is very alive in Japanese (at least standardly > :) ).
I have seen [we] and [wi] written as katakana U + small E or I, and I think that'd be generally understood, but I doubt it's at all common. Funny thing, my first Japanese teacher told me to spell my last name in katakana as U, small O, RE, SU, which just seems like a weird and roundabout way of doing it--especially since the first two syllables are definitely A-like the way I pronounce it (well, the second is more of a schwa, but still nowhere near /e/). I prefer to write it WARASU.