The primitive form of what has now been widespread as the laryngeal theory was first proposed by Saussure in his brilliant study of 1879. Although the theory made many contributions to our understanding of problems in Indo-European historical phonology since then, it still plays a major part in solving long-standing puzzling issues. In fact, the most significant achievement in the field of the past two decades is probably the further development of the laryngeal theory. It is particularly important that recent findings within the framework of this theory have enabled us to see many seemingly isolated facts in a wider perspective of ablauting paradigms.
Thanks to the abundance of old documents as wel as the excellent descriptive work conducted both by the Chinese themselves and foreigners, the study of Chinese phonology has flourished. This paper, which consists of the following seven sections, introduces various approaches taken in past studies of Chinese phonology, discusses current theoretical issues, and points out some of the important topics in this area. (1) The concept of ‘layer’ in historical phonology (2) Studies on the compiling process for documents on Chinese historical phonology (3) A method of projecting family trees on geographical distribution (4) Tracing recent phonological changes (5) Historical studies on tone and stress accent (6) Bilingual documents (7) Studies on old Chinese phonology and genetic relation between Chinese and the other language families
This paper discusses various topics found in the historical study of Korean phonology. First, I will examine the phonological system of Middle Korean from the synchronic point of view. Then, I will review various attempts to reconstruct earlier Korean. It will be demonstrated that both written records and the method of internal reconstruction play important roles in explaining the origins of consonant clusters, aspirates, and so on. It will be also shown that the pitch was not distinctive in Proto-Korean and the system of Middle Korean pitch accent was a secondary development.
This paper reviews the previous studies on important topics in Japanese historical phonology, introducing both classic works and newer publications. The paper then points out some of the significant issues requiring further elaboration, e.g., (1) distinctive features of /g, z, d, b/ in Old Japanese (OJ), (2) historical development of Modern Japanese /h/, (3) merging process of */di/ vs. */zi/ and */du/ vs. */zu/, (4) phonotactic constraints avoiding hiatus or word-initial /g, z, d, b, r/ in OJ. The reasons why these topics represent particularly important questions, especially with regard to the phonetic naturalness of sound change, are then explored.
In the historical studies of Japanese accent, especially in those using the written texts, the pitch accent is often described with the discreet levels. Since this 'level' view is sometimes subject to criticism, I review the discussions concerning the notions such as 'tone-bearing units' or 'compound accent' and examine their validity. The purpose is not to argue against the 'non-level' view, but to develop further the insights obtained both by the level and non-level approaches. The discussion here would contribute toward establishing the method of the historical research of Japanese accent which is more practical both for the text and field researches and which at the same time can approach the true nature of Jananese accent.
Japanese vowel devoicing is claimed to be less frequent in the Kinki dialect than in the Tokyo dialect (standard Japanese). In the present paper, frequency of vowel devoicing of /i/ in the non-sense /CiCe/ words is compared among Kinki- and Tokyo dialect speakers. The results indicated that, within pitch accent and speech rate groupings, some of the Kinki dialect speakers showed devoicing rates similar to that of the Tokyo dialect speakers. It was also confirmed that the devoicing rate for some Kinki dialect speakers was significantly less than that for Tokyo speakers. For Tokyo and Kinki speakers who had a high rate of devoicing, variation in rate of devoicing due to consonantal environment was 1) highly frequent (almost without exception) when a stop or an affricate was at least on one side, 2) less frequent (seemingly random) when fricatives were on both sides, and 3) infrequent (seemingly random) when there was a following /h/. A similar tendency was found for the Kinki speakers with a smaller rate of devoicing. The present results suggest that devoicing phenomena may be complex, occurring not only at higher (phonological) levels but also at the lower (phonetic) level.
This paper examines the effect of (1) pitch type and (2) acoustic characteristics of vowels preceding and following the t-closure, on the t-closure duration necessary to sound as /tt/ (sokuon). The t-closure duration of the words /kata/ and /katta/ with two different pitch types (High-Low/HL and Low-High/LH) was modified systematically. These words were presented to 10 native Japanese speakers in a carrier sentence spoken at a normal speaking rate. It was found that (1) the t-closure duration of the LH type for sokuon is significantly longer than that of the HL type; and (2) acoustic characteristics such as the length of preceding/following vowels, pitch range and movement, vocal effort seem to affect /t/-/tt/ judgment.