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

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

Accentual Contrast Maintenance and Vowel Devoicing in Tokyo Japanese

Mafuyu Kitahara

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA

Pitch accent realization requires voicing. However, high vowels are sometimes devoiced even though the vowel carries a pitch accent in Tokyo Japanese. This devoicing, then, would obliterate the pitch accent were it not for other effects which preserve the accent information. Previous studies showed that there is either a pitch raising after the devoiced region or an accent shift to nearby moras in those cases. Two production experiments were conducted to see how various conditions, such as tonal context, boundary location, and syllabic environment, affect the pitch accent preservation. Results show that accent shift is strictly governed by the boundary and syllabic conditions but pitch raising does not always make up for the lack of accent shift. Accent location information is lost in such cases where neither pitch raising nor accent shift occurs. This suggests a relatievely lower functional load of accentual contrast in Japanese.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kitahara, Mafuyu (1999): "Accentual contrast maintenance and vowel devoicing in Tokyo Japanese", In ICPhS-14, 2363-2366.