This is a reply to Shimoji's (1997) criticism of /i/ which has been proposed by Miyara and Arakawa 1994, Miyara 1995a, and Miyara 1996, and supported by Ishihara 1995, in the vowel systems of Okinawa mainisland dialects. The postulation of this phoneme needs a rule changing/i/ into [i], since there is no phonetic realization of [i]. Nevertheless, it brings about a great simplification in the phonological system. The establishment of /i/ makes contributions, first of all, to provide a general account for palatalization, vowel coalescence and vowel simplification; secondly to reduce the overall number of phonemes, including /t_??_/ (or/c/) and /d_??_/ (or /z/) that have been very common in the phonological analyses of Ryukyuan dialects for the past forty years; thirdly to show, in principle, one-to-one correspondences of phonemes between phonological systems of some Japanese dialects; and lastly to simplify the typology of vowel systems of the Ryukyuan dialect group as a 6-vowel system including /i/.
The Linguistic Society of Japan