As I read 「ノルウェイの森」 by 村上春樹, I noticed some words that are probably mistyped.


Shouldn't it be そのおかげで?

A few more examples:


バッグ => バック (no dakuten)


そして => そしで (extra dakuten)


とって => とつて (っ grows up to つ, this is another kind of transformation, but I'm not sure if I should create a separate question for it)

Are these words just misprinted or they are used correctly?

  • 3
    Which edition/page numbers did you find these? Perhaps someone else has the book (I don't) and could check.
    – nkjt
    Sep 20, 2013 at 17:33
  • Page numbers are 21, 27, 28, 30 in my case. Unfortunately, it's only an electronic document and there's no edition specified.
    – nikkou
    Sep 21, 2013 at 9:12
  • あの… I didn't think there was an e-book on sale for ノルウェイの森. (At least, not the Japanese version).
    – nkjt
    Sep 21, 2013 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


I think おかけで, かつと, and そしで are most plausibly explained as misprints. They don't generally occur, and this novel is too recent (written in 1987) to make comparisons to historical kana orthography.

Although it's possible that バック too is a misprint, another explanation seems plausible to me in this case. In Japanese, a phenomenon called rendaku or sequential voicing occurs primarily in compounds such as ひとびと, in which ひと is joined with another ひと, but the second /h/ is voiced to /b/. This is limited (but not predicted) by Lyman's Law, a set of rules that explain when sequential voicing should not happen.

Although バッグ is not an example of sequential voicing, as it consists of a single morpheme loaned from English, if you apply a similar set of rules to loanwords in Japanese, you discover something interesting. If we applied Lyman's law, we'd find that the /k/ in ばっく could not voice to /g/ because of the voiced obstruent /b/ in the beginning of the word. And when Lyman's law would prevent voicing in native compounding, it manifests as optional devoicing in loanwords. That is, the /g/ in バッグ optionally devoices to /k/, giving us バック. Other examples include:

ビッ → ビッ
ベッ → ベッ

This is a native Japanese phonetic rule appearing as a tendency in contexts where it should not strictly apply. This was first pointed out by Kohei Nishimura's thesis, Lyman's Law in Loanwords (2003) and has been the subject of some recent research. In particular, Shigeto Kawahara illustrates in Aspects of Japanese loanword devoicing (2011) that this devoicing is more likely to happen in words that are used more frequently.

(Of course, I think in published material it would still be considered an error, but I think there's at least a possibility that it's a more interesting kind of error than a simple misprint.)

  • 2
    Interesting about optional devoicing - I remember a while back reading an online novel by a native speaker who consistently used ベット for ベッド, which at the time I assumed was just an error by the author.
    – nkjt
    Sep 20, 2013 at 19:48
  • The theory that the previous voicing has anything to do with it is interesting. I personally saw it as a symptom of voiced gemination not really existing in Japanese phonology (at least not originally). Except maybe in very clearly articulated speech バッグ and バック sound the same to me. Kinda like ヴ which might supposedly be labiodental, but not really in practice.
    – dainichi
    Sep 22, 2013 at 1:09
  • @dainichi But what the papers show is that in a corpus of spontaneous speech the devoicing doesn't usually occur in loans that don't violate Lyman's Law. So ベッド→ベット and バッグ→バック, but not ヘッド→*ヘット or レッグ→*レック. (I'm not saying other explanations aren't possible, though.)
    – user1478
    Sep 22, 2013 at 1:51
  • I might be mistaken; but, I was under the impression that words like バック and ベット are from the German... Loanwords are not always English...
    – execjosh
    Sep 22, 2013 at 13:42
  • 1
    @execjosh Here's a 2013 paper by Kawahara, replicating earlier experiments using a newer corpus. In their data, devoicing happened 40% of the time when Lyman's Law was violated (in 438 cases out of 1099), but only 5% of the time when it wasn't (26 out of 518 cases). This seems like a fairly robust difference to me. You can make up your own mind whether or not German influence is the source of a Japanese phonetic phenomenon, but given the parallel in native words and the synchronic nature of the devoicing, I personally don't think it's likely.
    – user1478
    Sep 22, 2013 at 14:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .