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Re: Japanese phonemes (was Re: The Monovocalic PIE Myth (wasGermans have no /w/, ...))

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Sunday, June 13, 2004, 5:59
Danny Wier wrote:
> > From: "Nik Taylor" <yonjuuni@...> > > > The reason is that there's no voiced /h/, and voiced /h/ is very rare > > anyways. "f" simply DOES NOT EXIST in Japanese on a PHONEMIC level. > > It doesn't really exist on a phonetic level either; it's actually [P] (IPA > phi), which makes me think more of the sound of [W] than [f].
Really? Sounds very /f/-like to me. Of course, my dialect doesn't have [W], perhaps if mine did, I'd think of "wh" as being closer than "f", but for [W]-less dialects, I think /f/ is the closest English sound to it.
> The Hiragana and Katakana syllabries actually do have characters for /we/, > /wi/, and /wo/ (but still no /je/). I think they're only used for foreign > words (that aren't Sino-Japanese).
*Very* early forms of the man'yougana, the phonetically-used kanji that developed into hiragana, had a distinct /je/ character-set. But, that died out long before anything you can call "early hiragana" developed. And anyways, as Christophe pointed out, they're not used in borrowings at all. /we/ and /wi/ in both kana, and /wo/ in katakana are completely obsolete since 1946 (and were homophonous with /i/ /e/ /o/). Personally, I tend to think of the /wo/ hiragana as being almost more like a kanji than a kana in the modern orthography, since it's not really phonetic per se anymore (used only in the one particle). :-) Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> 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).
Originally, but nowadays they're often made monosyllabic, written as U followed by a *little* kana, i.e., "whiskey" can be written as "uisukii" or "u(i)sukii", using parentheses to indicate a small i, u(i) being pronounced as [wi]


Tristan Mc Leay <kesuari@...>