14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999


Pitch Accent and Vowel Devoicing in Japanese

Yoko Hasegawa

UC Berkeley, CA, USA

Japanese is widely recognized as a prototypical pitch-accent language, based on the fact that, given the “accent” location or the lack thereof, the tonal pattern of the entire word is totally predictable. Therefore, unlike tone languages, specification of the tone of each syllable is unnecessary. Consequently, it has been argued that, although Japanese may superficially resemble tone languages, it is essentially more like such stress-accent languages as English. However, unlike stress-accent languages, Tokyo Japanese exhibits no evidence of need to consider the socalled accented syllable more prominent than others. In fact, the very notion of accent may lead to an incorrect prediction that the vowel of an “accented” syllable is less likely deleted than other vowels. By examining the vowel devoicing (deletion) phenomenon in Japanese, the present paper reconsiders the notion of pitch accent as applied to Tokyo Japanese.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hasegawa, Yoko (1999): "Pitch accent and vowel devoicing in Japanese", In ICPhS-14, 523-526.