Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 121–153 | Cite as

Rendaku-Based Lexical Hierarchies in Japanese: The Behaviour of Sino-Japanese Mononoms in Hybrid Noun compounds

  • Mark Irwin


Takayama (1999) recently proposed a new rendaku-based vocabulary stratum hierarchy for Japanese, in which what he terms a ‘vulgarized Sino-Japanese’ stratum is treated separately from, and occupies a more core position than, the traditional Sino-Japanese (SJ) stratum. However, Takayama deliberately excludes from his analysis one particular subset of the SJ vocabulary layer, monomorphemic SJ lexemes (SJ mononoms), and focuses exclusively on bimorphemic SJ lexemes (SJ binoms), claiming that analytical difficulties caused by another voicing phenomenon known as shindaku(Okumura (1952)), which occurs only in the SJ stratum, hampers any attempt to ascertain the frequency of rendaku amongst SJ mononoms. As it has been established that the stratum to which the initial element in a dual element noun compound belongs is not a factor conditioning rendaku in the second element (Ohno (2000)), examining comparatively under-researched hybrid noun compounds whose second element is a SJ mononom allows us to bypass any interference caused by shindakuand establish the frequency of rendaku occurrence amongst SJ mononoms. Such a corpus of hybrid noun compounds whose second element is a SJ mononom is presented here, to the author’s knowledge the first time any such corpus has appeared in print, an analysis of which shows that rendaku is in fact more than twice as likely to occur amongst SJ mononoms as amongst SJ binoms. When a further dynamic, the faithfulness of SJ mononoms to a prosodic size factor proposed by Rosen (2001) for native Japanese lexemes, is taken into consideration, it is clear that not only, at the very least, must Takayama’s vulgarized SJ stratum be amended to incorporate SJ mononoms, but that there is also a strong case for proposing an independent vulgarized SJ mononom stratum occupying an even more central position than the vulgarized SJ binom stratum.


Central Position Strong Case Factor Conditioning Size Factor Initial Element 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Literature and Social SciencesYamagata UniversityYamagata-shiJapan

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