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I'm reading through a book about learning Mandarin written in Japanese. There's a section describing the basics of initials (声母【せいぼ】) and finals (韻母【いんぼ】) in Chinese syllables with the following sentence:

音節はまず大きく「声母」と「韻母」に分かれます。声母とは頭に付く子音のこと、韻母とはそれ以外の残りの部分で、ここに母音が含まれます。

There don't seem to be any entries for 頭に付く in any online dictionaries, or any alternate meanings of 頭 or 付く that would fit the context. Does anyone know what it means?

2

頭 usually refers to a physical head, and here it is used in an extended, more abstract, meaning, front position.

Compare with the use of the English head in a programming context: C++ header files. There's also the linguistic term head-initial.

Thus, 声母とは頭に付く子音 says that a 声母 is a 子音 placed at the the beginning of a 音節.


A few more examples:

  • 単語の頭につく「S」の発音
  • フォント名称の頭に「@」が付くものが縦書きフォントになります。 「@extfont2.shx」
  • 「『し』があたまにつくTVゲームと言えば?」「シュタインズゲート(XBOX360のADV)」
  • 「妹須比智邇神(イモスヒチニノカミ)」: 原文の方の神名のあたまにつく「妹(イモ)」は、女性を意味する接頭語で、兄弟姉妹の妹に限らない。
  • 第5問目:「”ド”があたまにつく、外国のなまえは?」「ドイツ」

From the 新和英大辞典:

〔最初〕 the beginning [start] 《of…》; the opening 《of…》; 〔上方〕 the top [head] 《of…》; 〔先端〕 the point [tip]《of…》.

 ・曲の頭 the opening [beginning, start] of a piece of music

  ・釘の頭 the head of a nail

  ・鼻の頭 the tip of one's nose

  ・月の頭 〔月初め〕 the beginning [start] of a month

  ・来月の頭にはゲラができてくる予定です. The proofs are due to be ready at the beginning of next month.

  ・話の頭 the beginning [start, opening] of a conversation [discussion]

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