15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)
"Vowel devoicing" is a widely observed phenomenon in Japanese. It
occurs more frequently in the Tokyo dialect (standard Japanese) and
less frequently in the Osaka dialect. Previous studies have suggested
that the frequency of devoicing is highly related to the speaking habits
of the speakers and how carefully they pronounce their words. It has
been said the speakers of the Tokyo dialects pronounce vowels less
carefully than the speakers of the Osaka dialects. The present study
examines the relation between vowel duration and the occurrence of
The results showed the relative duration of the vowel in a mora in a non-devoicing environment was significantly shorter for Tokyo speakers, who consistently showed vowel devoicing, than for the Osaka speakers who did not show vowel devoicing. However, the vowel duration of the Osaka speakers who showed devoicing in fast speech is not necessarily longer than that of Tokyo speakers. Furthermore, the duration of /i/ of Tokyo speakers was constantly short regardless of speech rate, while that of /e/ varies corresponding to speech rate. This finding indicates that Tokyo speakers categorically differentiate the pronunciation of high- and non-high vowels. Phonetic and phonological aspects of vowel devoicing are discussed based upon the present results and those of our physiological study.
Bibliographic reference. Fujimoto, Masako / Kiritani, Shigeru (2003): "Vowel duration and its effect on the frequency of vowel devoicing in Japanese: a comparison between Tokyo- and Osaka dialect speakers", In ICPhS-15, 3189-3192.