15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Nasalization in Japanese Back-Channels Bears Meaning

Nigel Ward (1), Masafumi Okamoto (2)

(1) University of Texas at El Paso, USA
(2) University of Tokyo, Japan

Many back-channels seem to be primarily sound-symbolic expressions, rather than fixed sequences of phonemes with arbitrarily associated meanings. The presence of a sound-symbolic meaning for one phonetic feature, nasalization, in back-channels in Japanese was investigated. Subjects were presented with tokens synthesized with and without nasalization and judged the differences in meaning for each pair. The results showed a fairly consistent meaning for nasalization, independent of the pragmatic context and of the phonetic context in which it occurred.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ward, Nigel / Okamoto, Masafumi (2003): "Nasalization in Japanese back-channels bears meaning", In ICPhS-15, 635-638.