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Questions tagged [phonology]

音韻論. The way contrastive sounds (phonemes) are processed psychologically by native speakers. This is theoretical as opposed to physical. If your question is about articulatory phonetics (how to form sounds physically), auditory phonetics (the physical sounds we can hear) or acoustic phonetics (the measurement and analysis of the sound waves produced in human speech), please use the phonetics tag instead. Put phonemic transcriptions in /forward slashes/.

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Words in the Kagoshima dialect

Using this Wikipedia article here, I learnt that words in Standard Japanese may encounter something called sonorant gliding while converting to Kagoshima dialect. For what is written here, these are ...
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1answer
190 views

IPA for ふーん/んふふ (pronounced with your mouth closed)

I know that ふ is normally pronounced as [ɸɯ]. But ふ is sometimes used to represent a clearly different sound that occasionally appears in spoken Japanese, and I'm having trouble identifying its IPA ...
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0answers
120 views

Allophones: /e/ as [j] , /kj/ as [k͡xj]?

I noticed a few pronounciations which surprised me. https://youtu.be/MQmJYGBpBXM?t=20m8s In this clip, and in a lot of other movies, 返して, /kaeɕ.te/ sounds like [kaɪ̯ɕ.te] to me. Is there a rule?: /e/...
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1answer
156 views

The yomikata of 十三

This has been obsessing me for quite a while. While 十三 is normally pronounced ジュウサン, it is often pronounced ジュウゾウ in people's names and also pronounced ジュウソウ in names of places. I am wondering how ...
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1answer
431 views

Why is [好]{す}き pronounced with a voiceless/almost silent U, but [隙]{すき} is not?

Why is [好]{す}き pronounced with a voiceless/almost silent U, but [隙]{すき} is not? I've used 2 sound sample sources for both, Jisho and Rikai sama. They both pronounce the first (like) with a voiceless ...
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3answers
161 views

pronunciation, dialects/background: わたす、すた?

I was watching a few episodes of the anime for 魔法遣いに大切なこと and I couldn't help but notice that the main character, a girl from 岩手県 in this story, pronounced some words containing し as though they ...
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3answers
470 views

Why Was Jaguar Borrowed as ジャガー?

It's listed as being borrowed from English, but even if it were the case that it had been borrowed from Portuguese, it's still pronounced /ɡwɑɹ/ and not /ɡɑɹ/. Japanese phonology is also perfectly ...
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1answer
184 views

Are フィ、ファ、フェ and フォ still pronounced with a bilabial fricative or just a normal English “f”?

I know that ふ is pronounced with a bilabial fricative, which is different from an English "f" or "h". However, in 外来語 there are some words containing things like フィ、ファ、フェ and フォ. e.g. フィクション. Seeing ...
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1answer
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Are the Japanese し and the Mandarin “xi” really both [ɕ]?

I've had this question for several months now, and haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer online. The Japanese し and the Mandarin "xi", as in 西, are listed equivalently as [ɕ] in the IPA. ...
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1answer
399 views

Is しごと pronounced as 'shingocto'?

I downloaded Genki and the CDs that came with it. しごと was pronounced as 'shingocto' instead of 'shigoto.' Why is that?
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1answer
285 views

Why is the English word “studio” transcribed as スタジオ?

So I'm aware that transcription into Japanese is not always clear-cut, and there are plenty of exceptions. It sort of makes sense that "Australia" is オーストラリア not *オーストレリア and "stadium" is スタジアム not *...
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Phonetic Mapping of the Hiragana System Used in the Okinawan Omoro Sōshi

The classical Okinawan poetry collection the Omoro Sōshi is written (mostly) in Hiragana, but the phonetic mapping of the characters to sounds seems to be different to their standard mapping. For ...
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2answers
779 views

Why is “konnichi wa” written with は and not わ? [duplicate]

Why is "konnichi wa" in hiragana with は and not わ?
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3answers
430 views

Japanese pitch accent in songs

Do Japanese (pop) songs usually preserve pitch accent (so that the words have to be chosen in accordance with the melody, just the words in English songs have to match the meter) or does it get ...
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2answers
427 views

Reduction of the diphthong “ou” to “ō” in Middle and Modern Japanese

I noticed that in the word 子牛 both "o" and "u" are pronounced while in the word 格子 there is a long "ō" and they are, respectively, written in rōmaji (Hepburn romanization) koushi and kōshi. What I'd ...
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1answer
82 views

連濁 in proper nouns

There was already this answer regarding the basic rules of rendaku. However, it seems that these rules do not apply at all to proper nouns, especially toponyms. Examples include 秋葉原{あきはばら} (no rendaku)...
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4answers
244 views

Pronunciation of ん before a fricative

I've seen many questions asked about the ん sound, both on this site and others, but I'm still uncertain about how it should be produced before a fricative (e.g. さ, し, ひ, ふ). So I'm hoping someone can ...
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2answers
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Desu pronounced dess: what about other words? [duplicate]

On a CD that came with my text book I hear that desu is pronounced dess. Are there many other words in Japanese, where done of the sound from the kana spelling actually falls off, like in this example,...
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2answers
177 views

Why is Beach ビーチ and not ビーチュ, why is Cake ケーキ and not ケーク?

The latter sounds better, in my opinion. But is that just my opinion?
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1answer
245 views

What is this い sound change?

I often hear 全員 pronounced as ”ぜいいん”. I also read online that 雰囲気 can sometimes be heard as "ふいんき” although I have personally never heard that. I have a few questions about this phenomenon: Is there ...
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1answer
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What's the pitch accent of すなわち?

As in title, what's the pattern of the pitch accent in the word すなわち, in the Tokyo (standard) pronunciation?
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3answers
249 views

激情 and its pronunciation

I've heard the じょう being pronounced as some kind of voiceless fricative in multiple works of entertainment, especially in the case of 激情. Is it some kind of remnant phoneme from old Japanese or is it ...
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2answers
330 views

What happened to the を sound?

Unlike ゑ and ゐ, を actually still exists. However, I've never heard of this letter actually being pronounced fully as 'wo'. It's kind of weird that there aren't any words with that letter, isn't it? ...
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1answer
1k views

Rule on vowel devoicing? [duplicate]

Ok, so I mostly understand how vowel devoicing works in Japanese, but there's something that's making me a bit confused. On all the sources I've found, most say that vowel devoicing usually occurs in ...
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4answers
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Do native speakers think of prolonged vowels as one long vowel, or two vowel sounds following each other?

In a native speaker's mental model, are long vowel sounds - for example the おう in 「教室」 the ああ in 「唐揚げ」, the えい in 「先生」 or just 「いい」 (I chose these examples quite deliberately, since they represent ...
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1answer
489 views

Why is the た in 手伝う voiced?

English て+つたう→てつだう Unexpectedly, the た from つたう turns into だ. 連濁, at least with the 手+伝う analysis, can't account for this, because it's not the first consonant of 伝う. What happened here? ...
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1answer
752 views

What are the pitch-accent rules for compound nouns?

I've been trying to learn the pitch-accent of standard Japanese, but this is more difficult as it should be as it's hard to find good learning resources that provide proper descriptions of how the ...
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1answer
292 views

Trying to think of borrowed English words that parse “ti” as ティ or as チ。 [closed]

I often trip up in guessing the pronunciation of words that have been borrowed into Japanese from English where the original pronunciation had "ti" in it. For example, I might say ネイチブ instead of ...
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2answers
385 views

How many possible phonological forms could be represented by a randomly chosen single character?

In Chinese, every character is monosyllabic and Mandarin has a total of about ~1200 licit syllables including tone (about 400 if you don't count tone). This means that if I take any Chinese character ...
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3answers
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Why is デート read deito instead of deeto?

From what I've seen/learned so far, ー extends the sound from the previous kana. Following this logic デート should be read deeto. Why is it pronounced deito?
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1answer
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The nasal allophones of /g/

In this this post's comments, Zhen Lin said that the rules surrounding the nasal allophones in compound words are 'complicated', but couldn't remember them. I'd like to know what these complex rules ...
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1answer
142 views

Classical form of 落{お}ちる

I read in a haiku written by Bashō/芭蕉 (source - see my addendum at the end of the post) : をちこちに 瀧{たき}の音{おと}聞く{きく} 落{おち}葉{ば}かな My translation : From far and near, hearing the sounds ...
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2answers
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Why are Japanese vowels occasionally rhotacised in songs?

This might be a bit weird, but when I listen to Japanese music, sometimes I notice "r"-like sounds in syllable-final positions, or between vowels where there should be no [r]. I know that /r/ is not ...
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2answers
376 views

Japanese: “osowarata”?

These are the lyrics to a metal song about Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror. The band tends go Classical for effect (cf. the refrain at the end: 闇にこぞりて / 我が主来ませり …). The first verse is transcribed in ...
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4answers
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Does Japanese have a silent ん?

Often, I can't hear ん in words. Most recently I've seen this in 攻殻機動隊. Examples: もう少し詳しい検査をしてみないと何とも言えませんが、おそらく外的な要因は見つかりそうもありません... 要因 sounds like ようい しくじれば、Spring-8の4倍の税金をかけた橋を… Sounds like ぜいき ...
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1answer
588 views

Analysing nasal glides

For my phonology homework, we're given the nasals [n] [m] [η] and nasalized glides [w] and [j]. From the data, I've found that [n] and [m] are phonemes and [η] is an allophone of /n/. What I can't ...
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317 views

What's the relationship between 'e' and 'wa' in some words?

Can someone explain how 'e' and 'wa' are related in some words / 音便? Presumably the 'e' was originally the obsolete ゑ since it's in the ワ行. Some examples: 上(うえ) ←→ 上着(うわ・ぎ) 声(こえ) ←→ 声色(こわ・いろ)...
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1answer
300 views

Are there any rules governing voicing in words formed via reduplication?

Consider the following words: 燦々 sansan 散々 sanzan Both of them are formed via the reduplication of san, but the latter word has the second instance voiced, while the former doesn't. Was there some ...
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1answer
155 views

Pronunciation of ワンマン運転

I hear ワンマン運転 as ワンマウンテン, with the ん of マン dissapearing, or perhaps being very soft. Here's an example:http://youtu.be/DZnuH1XkE7s?t=49s Another question shows that there can be something ...
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1answer
317 views

「はは」(母) and ハ行転呼

It occurred to me the other day that if ハ行転呼 had affected all applicable environments without exception, 母 /haha/ (or I guess properly it was /ɸaɸa/, right?)should have become /hawa/. The Japanese ...
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1answer
187 views

Syllable final -t in early modern Japanese?

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 ...
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2answers
1k views

Does an international OR standardized phonetic alphabet/notation system exist to depict all the Hiragana/Katakana sounds?

Are there written systems (preferably international & standardized) that you can use to depict how to pronounce any word from Japanese and any language. Something similar to Romaji but one that ...
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3answers
1k views

Rules for emphasizing by lengthening sounds

Sometimes, sounds are lengthened for emphasis. For example, see "とっても versus とても". What are the rules governing this process? Are there restrictions on where lengthening can be inserted? とっても or ...
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7answers
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Except for pitch, what are the differences in pronunciation between Kansaiben and Tokyoben?

I have tried to ask people this type of question on many occasions and the answer is always the same, but people are notoriously bad at evaluating their own language, so I ask here: Apart for pitch, ...
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1answer
737 views

Is accent position predictable for -i verbs in Osaka/Kansai?

Background While I'm not especially confident about the reliability of my sources (Wikipedia (0) (1) (2) and some guys' personal websites), and it's possible that I transcribed some of these wrong, ...
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3answers
4k views

How 「えい」 should be pronounced in the words like 英語, 先生, etc?

P.S.: I heard that 「生」 (せい) in the word 先生 can be pronounced either as [sei] or as [see]. If it is so, is there any semantic difference between these variants?
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しらゆきひめ 'Snow White'

I am trying to understand the title of a tale. しろ 'white' ゆき 'snow' ひめ 'princess' しらゆきひめ 'Snow White' If white is しろ, why is 'Snow White' not しろゆきひめ?
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2answers
726 views

Utterance initial [ɾ]

According to The sounds of Japanese (Vance 2008): When /ɾ/ is the first phoneme in an utterance, the tip of the tongue is already resting lightly on the alveolar ridge, and /ɾ/ is produced by rapidly ...
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3answers
5k views

How and when to use せや and its variants in Kansai-ben?

Here in Kansai I hear せや, せやねん, and せやな everywhere. I was wondering if anyone could clarify the meaning and usage of these, as well as their equivalent in more standard Japanese? Additionally, are ...
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2answers
11k views

Why is the Japanese currency pronounced “yen” in English?

I'm wondering what the reason for the mispronunciation of 円 in English came to be "yen". I can understand how some words like 東京 became "Tokyo", but "en" to "yen" seems strange. On a side note, why is ...