Saka as in 酒場{さかば} or zaka as in 居酒屋{いざかや}

Sake as in 酒{さけ}

  • I think you mistyped the furigana there in 酒場(さかば)
    – sazarando
    Oct 13, 2016 at 5:21
  • Oops you are right. I have edited it. Thanks.
    – will
    Oct 13, 2016 at 5:22
  • I think you can find a good answer here: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/2526/…
    – sazarando
    Oct 13, 2016 at 5:25
  • I do understand the need for 連濁 but isn't 連濁 for the beginning of the first consonant of the latter component?
    – will
    Oct 13, 2016 at 5:31
  • 1
    The latter. I have edited the question to make it clearer. Sorry if it was unclear.
    – will
    Oct 13, 2016 at 5:34

1 Answer 1


The difference between さか and ざか is just one of rendaku, which I think is well discussed here: Rules or criteria for 連濁: Voiced or unvoiced syllables in compound words

The reason that 酒{さけ} becomes 酒{さか} in some cases is not really directly related to rendaku(連濁)rather this is called ten'on(転音).

Just as a short answer, some words, when part of a compound word, will have a change in the vowel sound of the final syllable/mora.

This change seems to sometimes carry the implication of「何々の為の何々」.

え turning into あ:

  • 酒{さけ}の場{ば} ⇒ 酒場{さかば}
  • 手{て}の綱{つな} ⇒ 手綱{たづな}
  • 雨{あめ}の戸{と} ⇒ 雨戸{あまど}

い turning into う

  • 神{かみ}の主{ぬし} ⇒ 神主{かむぬし} ⇒ 神主{かんぬし}
  • 口{くち}の輪{わ} ⇒ 轡{くつわ}

い turning into お

  • 木の陰 木陰

You can see other examples here: http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q12109076097

The best Japanese reference I can find that really concisely outlines what's going on with さけ・ざけ・さか・ざか is this one here: http://www.nihongokyoshi.co.jp/manbow/manbow.php?id=845&TAB=2

  • 2
    The historical evidence actually suggests the opposite -- the original form was /saka/, while /sake/ was a later innovation. Some writers (possibly including Shibatani in his The Languages of Japan) suggest that the vowels were fronted (/a//e/, /o/ or /u//i/) through a fusion with the ancient emphatic nominal particle い{i}. I've also read somewhere that Ainu kamuy is possible evidence of this: ancient kamu + ikamui, then the final -ui becoming -i in modern kami. Oct 13, 2016 at 8:16
  • 3
    So too with saka + isakaisake. We see similar monophthongization (where two-vowel sounds become one-vowel sounds) in modern slangy Japanese, such as sugoi becoming sugē, takai becoming takē, etc. Oct 13, 2016 at 8:18

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