UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Japanese lexical phonology and morphology Ross, Martin John Elroy


Over the years, phonologists working in the generative framework have encountered a number of persistent problems in their descriptions of Japanese phonology. Several of these problems concern phonological rules that sometimes do and sometimes do not apply in seemingly identical phonological environments. Many of the proposed analyses achieve observational adequacy, but, nonetheless, are intuitively dissatisfying. The first of two such problems involves the desiderative suffix -ta and the homophonous perfective inflection -ta, both of which attach to verb roots. When the verb root is vowel-final, the derivations are straightforward. (1) (a) tabe + ta + i → tabe-ta-i 'want to eat' mi + ta + i → mi-ta-i 'want to see' (b) tabe + ta → tabe-ta 'ate' mi + ta → mi-ta 'see (past)' Derivations are not so straightforward when the verb root is consonant-final. In such cases an intervening i is inserted between the root and the desiderative suffix, but not between the root and the perfective inflection. (2) (a) tat + ta + i → tat-i-ta-i 'want to stand' kat + ta + i → kat-i-ta-i 'want to win' (b) tat + ta → tat-ta 'stood' kat + ta → kat-ta 'won' McCawley (1968) is not specific in how he accounts for this differential it appears that he favours the adoption of a morphological rule such as (3) (from Koo, 1974). (3) ∅ → i / C]v__+tai Koo (1974) has attempted to reanalyze the desiderative suffix as -ita, but, since there is no evidence of W cluster simplification in the language, he is left with the even more difficult problem of deleting the initial i of the suffix following vowel-final verb roots. (4) tabe + ita + i → tabe-ta-i 'want to eat' mi + ita + i → mi-ta-i 'want to see' Maeda (1979) has chosen a boundary solution, positing that t-initial inflections are joined to verb roots by morpheme boundaries (+), while other suffixes such as the desiderative suffix are joined by a stronger boundary (:). By making the i insertion rule sensitive to boundaries of level :, the correct outputs can be derived. This solution, though, is unsatisfactory since the assignment of boundaries is not independently motivated. A second difficulty encountered by McCawley (1968) and others involves a high vowel syncopation rule that deletes the final i or u of Sino-Japanese monomorphemes when the initial consonant of a following Sino-Japanese monomorpheme is voiceless. (5) iti + too → it-too 'first class' roku + ka → rok-ka 'sixth lesson' However, a morpheme- or word-final high vowel at the boundary between a Sino-Japanese compound and a Sino-Japanese monomorpheme does not delete under those conditions insertion of i in these phonological identical environments, but (6) zi-ryoku 'magnetism' (X-Y) zi-ryoku + kei → zi-ryoku-kei 'magnetometer' (X-Y-Z) hai-tatu 'delivery' (Y-Z) betu + hai-tatu → betu-hai-tatu 'special delivery' (X-Y-Z) McCawley accounts for this pattern by invoking internal boundaries of different strengths: + and #. (7) iti + too roku + ka zi + ryoku # kei betu # hai + tatu He claims, then, that high vowel syncopation is sensitive to boundaries of strength + and is, therefore, blocked from applying to the u of zi + ryoku # kei. His analysis is correct, but his assignment of boundary strengths is rather arbitrary. Analyses such as the two above which appeal to boundary strength hierarchies have often been intuitively dissatisfying because of a lack of independent motivation. The relatively recent theory of lexical morphology and phonology as formulated by Kiparsky (1982) is ideally suited for this type of problem. One of the theory's most compelling attributes is that phonological processes may be put into a much broader context that includes morphological processes as well. This more integrated approach is often able to fit formerly isolated facts into a network of related facts to provide compelling independent motivation for diverse processes. The purpose of this thesis, then, is to fit i insertion, high vowel syncopation, and other Japanese phonological processes into the lexical phonology network to see exactly how they are related to each other and to the morphological phenomena of the language.

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