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In the Genki I textbook, it says that the i and the u vowels are sometimes dropped when placed between voiceless consonants or at the end of an utterance preceded by voiceless consonants.

The example given, すきです, demonstrates both points.

Currently, I am learning about adjectives and was wondering whether the vowel drop is also applied to adjectives (or words in general) that end in "いい", for example かわいい and うれしい.

Since the i is at the end of an utterance preceded by voiceless consonants in both examples, I believe that the vowel drop is acceptable. Therefore, is it appropriate in speech to say "kawaides" and "ureshides" or do I have to say the long i-vowel?

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  • Why do you think the last i of かわいい is "preceded by voiceless consonant"? Jul 18, 2016 at 21:09
  • @broccoliforest The book said "preceded by voiceless consonants," not "a" voiceless consonant. Because of this, I assumed that dropping may be necessary as long as there is a voiceless consonant in the word before the vowel. Jul 18, 2016 at 21:27
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    @AppleMango I think it should have said (directly) preceded by a voiceless consonant instead.
    – Earthliŋ
    Jul 18, 2016 at 22:10

2 Answers 2

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The vowel drop described in your textbook happens between consonants. However, even though the vowel is dropped, the rhythm of the word isn't changed.

[[s.ki.de.s]] ↔ [[su.ki.de.su]]

(the dot . denotes separation of syllables).

You cannot do the same with the [[i]] in かわいいです [[ka.wa.i.i.de.s(u)]] or うれしいです. (I don't understand your comment about voiceless consonants, but neither [[i]] is between consonants.)


However, a final -i is sometimes dropped in colloquial speech. I would describe this as a separate phenomenon, though.

痛い → 痛っ or 痛ッ
寒い → 寒っ or 寒ッ

In writing (e.g. ads, manga), the silent mora is usually represented by っ (or ッ).

For your two words, you'd get

カワイい → カワいっ
うれしい → うれしっ

The second be pronounced [[u.ɺe.ɕ. ]], i.e. with a(n almost?) silent final -i. However, note that the rhythm is not [[u.ɺeɕ]].

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  • かわいい → かわっ won't happen since you can't cut back the verb stem (you'll get かわいっ). Jul 18, 2016 at 21:33
  • @broccoliforest Not even かわいい → かわいっ → かわい → かわっ? (How else would you get something like くそかわ?)
    – Earthliŋ
    Jul 18, 2016 at 21:37
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    ○○かわ is just a 2-2 mora abbreviation template like あけおめ. It isn't grammatical itself as you can say キモかわ or ポンかわ too. Jul 18, 2016 at 21:56
  • @broccoliforest I see, I edited that part out, then.
    – Earthliŋ
    Jul 18, 2016 at 22:07
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The vowels aren't "dropped"; they simply become voiceless, which is explained (poorly) to English speakers as being "dropped" because the concept of voiceless vowels doesn't exist in English. In these two examples, the い is voiced in both cases.

For かわいい, the voicing of わ means that the first い is voiced, and thus the adjacent final い must also be voiced. Aside from that, though, if it's followed by です then it doesn't matter since the [d] at the start is always voiced. Thus the final い in うれしい must also be voiced. But since vowels are voiced by default, the final い would also make the previous い voiced.

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  • Well, sometimes they're entirely missing rather than being voiceless.
    – user1478
    Jul 19, 2016 at 0:46
  • @snailplane Yes, but that's an entirely separate phenomenon than devoicing.
    – Kurausukun
    Jul 19, 2016 at 6:33

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