There is an unsourced claim in the Wikipedia article on Early Modern Japanese that its phonology admitted syllable-final /t/.

This seems unlikely, since to my knowledge all reconstructions going back to OJ posit the same gross syllable structure as the modern language.

Does anyone know where this claim originated, and whether it's true?

1 Answer 1


I think it's fairly widely acknowledged that Middle Japanese introduced syllable-final /m/, /n/ and /t/ because of Chinese loanwords, and that first the /m/ and /n/ merged into /N/, later /t/ turned into /tu/.

I think you are right that syllable-final /t/ has never existed in native Japanese vocabulary.

  • 2
    Right, I see. Is there evidence that they were pronounced in MJ in that way? Usually (as is the case with loanwords into modern Japanese) foreign phonology gets levelled very quickly.
    – jogloran
    Dec 7, 2012 at 10:28
  • 2
    @jogloran, I believe some of the fossilized cases of 連声(ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%80%A3%E5%A3%B0) from this time can be regarded as evidence, e.g. 反応 is はんのう, not はんもう or はんおう, and 陰陽 is おんみょう, not おんにょう or おんよう. About foreign phonology getting leveled very quickly, are ティ and ディ not counterexamples?
    – dainichi
    Jan 12, 2014 at 0:48

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