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Title:Aspects of Japanese loanword devoicing
Authors:Shigeto Kawahara
Comment:to appear in Journal of East Asian Linguistics (minor revisions will be made)
Abstract:In Japanese loanwords, voiced geminates devoice optionally when they co-occur with another voiced obstruent i.e. when they violate OCP(voice) (e.g. /baggu/ => [bakku] `bag'). This devoicing of geminates has been used to make several theoretical claims in the recent phonological literature. However, these claims have so far largely been based on intuition-based data provided by Nishimura (2003) and Kawahara (2006). Kawahara (2010) addressed this problem by conducting a wellformedness judgment study. The first aim of this study, building on Kawahara (2010), is to further support the empirical foundation of these theoretical claims by way of a large-scale judgment study. The current study shows that (i) the OCP and geminacy each affect naturalness rating of devoicing, and (ii) that there is nevertheless something special about the combination of the OCP and geminacy.

The second aim is to test an assumption behind the recent literature on this phenomenon. The assumption is that this devoicing pattern is monolithic---i.e. all voiced geminates uniformly undergo devoicing in a certain phonological environment. The current experiment shows that this assumption is too simplistic. In particular it shows (i) speakers rate the devoicing of affricates more natural than---or at least as natural as---that of stops, (ii) speakers find devoicing of items that merge with other lexical items less natural, (iii) speakers rate devoicing as more natural when there are multiple triggers, (iv) speakers find devoicing of [dd] more natural than that of [gg], and (v) lexical frequencies affect naturalness ratings.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1