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?

  • Why do you think the last i of かわいい is "preceded by voiceless consonant"? – broken laptop Jul 18 '16 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. – Apple Mango Jul 18 '16 at 21:27
  • 1
    @AppleMango I think it should have said (directly) preceded by a voiceless consonant instead. – Earthliŋ Jul 18 '16 at 22:10

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]].

  • 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). – broken laptop Jul 18 '16 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 '16 at 21:37
  • 2
    ○○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. – broken laptop Jul 18 '16 at 21:56
  • @broccoliforest I see, I edited that part out, then. – Earthliŋ Jul 18 '16 at 22:07

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.

  • Well, sometimes they're entirely missing rather than being voiceless. – snailplane Jul 19 '16 at 0:46
  • @snailplane Yes, but that's an entirely separate phenomenon than devoicing. – Kurausukun Jul 19 '16 at 6:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.