• Synchronically Unified Ranking and Distribution of Voice in Japanese

      Ohno, Sachiko; Suzuki, Keiichiro; Elzinga, Dirk; University of Arizona (Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1995)
      It is well known that there are four classes of Japanese vocabulary with respect to its origin; Yamato vocabulary consists of native morphemes, Sino- Japanese consists of borrowed morphemes from Chinese, Foreign is a loanword from a language other than Chinese, and Mimetic describes sounds or manners. Each of these classes has different phonological properties.1 There are three phenomena with respect to the distribution of voice in Japanese. One of them is that post-nasal obstruents in Yamato vocabulary and Mimetic are mostly voiced while those in Sino-Japanese and Foreign are not. I will mainly focus on this property in this paper. However, I will also discuss the other phenomena, namely the compound voicing alternation (Rendaku) and the restriction of voiced sounds in a morpheme (Lyman's Law). These phenomena typically occur with Yamato vocabulary only. Although the domain of each phenomenon largely overlaps with a certain class of lexical origin, they do not match completely with each other. The purpose of this paper is to account for the distribution of voice in Japanese by establishing a constraint ranking that covers Japanese vocabulary of any origin. The organization of the paper is as follows. In section 2, I will present data and four problems to be solved. General tendency of Yamato vocabulary are summarized in 2.1, and many exceptions to the generalization are presented in 2.2. In section 3, I will give an analysis using a unified ranking rather than different rankings depending on origins of the vocabulary. In section 4, I will present two pieces of evidence --- historical and acquisional---to support my claim that Japanese has only one ranking.