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Re: [SCA-JML] Japanese linguistics

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  • logan@modzer0.cs.uaf.edu
    ... I would suggest you go ahead and get the suggested reading material or take a course on linquistics--Japanese in particular. However, since you have
    Message 1 of 15 , Jul 4, 2001
      On Wed, 4 Jul 2001, Stephen Higa wrote:

      > Well, I'm just wondering...I mean, I'm somewhat familiar with the
      > linguistic periods in Europe that one has to know to do the medieval
      > and renaissance music I'm interested in (i.e. Occitan, Iberian
      > languages, English, French, Arabic, Hebrew), but I don't know about
      > Japanese linguistics aside from what one gets when one speaks a
      > little of it conversationally (i.e., not much). I thought perhaps
      > this would be a good place to ask, because linguistics texts can be
      > overwhelming when jumping in cold turkey.
      > I don't want to dig myself any deeper in this than I am already, but
      > as for the g and h thing, sometimes distinct production mechanisms can
      > make little difference in a consonant shift, like the one from j/g
      > (sounded like modern French "j" in medieval Spanish) to a harsh h in
      > modern Spanish. I was just trying to find out why they say modern
      > japanese h's used to be p's when it doesn't seem like there should be
      > a relationship between the two. Do you actually know why?

      I would suggest you go ahead and get the suggested reading material or
      take a course on linquistics--Japanese in particular. However, since you
      have asked, I will try to remember everything that I had been taught in my
      linguistics class and see what I can do for you here.

      First of all, the issue of p -> h; in case you aren't interested in the
      rest just yet ;) I'm going to also try and define the various terms as I
      am not sure if you or others are familiar with them. As a disclaimer,
      when I say 'English' I am talking about English as it is taught in
      most American schools.

      As was mentioned, pu->fu is the same path that all of the 'h' series took.
      That is, p->f->h. The first is an unvoiced bilabial plosive. The second
      is an unvoiced bilablial fricative (note that it is actually different
      from the English 'f' which is labio-dental). The H is an unvoiced glottal

      Voiced refers to whether or not the larynx is vibrating when the sound is
      produced. Put your hand on your throat and you can feel it-- k is
      unvoiced, g is voiced; s is unvoiced, z is voiced; t is unvoiced, d is
      voiced. See a pattern? More on that later.

      The terms 'bilabial', 'labio-dental', and 'glottal' refer to where the
      sound is produced. Bilabial means that it is produced with both lips.
      'p', 'b', and 'm' are all Bilabial in English.

      Labio-dental means that it is produced with one lip and one set of teeth
      (lower lip, teeth of the upper jaw). The English 'f' and 'v' are

      Glottal refers to the back of the throat. I believe that it is about as
      far back as we really go in English.

      The next part has to do with how the sound is created. A plosive (think
      'explode' or 'implode') is where we close off a part of our mouth and then
      build up air, releasing it to form the sound (p, t, d, g, k, for example).

      A fricative is when the sound is caused by friction between the parts of
      the mouth. 'f','v','s', and 'z' are some examples of fricatives.

      Now, another aspect of all of this is the voicing, which I touched on
      briefly before. Now look at all the Japanese characters that take two
      'ten-ten' marks. That mark turns ka to ga, sa to za, etc. In each case,
      it adds the quality of making those sounds 'voiced'. For the 'h' series
      we therefore get 'b' because it is the voiced version of 'p' (Now, why
      they still kept the 'p' sound for some things I'm not sure. I am curious
      as to why that survived).

      Also notice that ma, na, ra, ya, wa cannot have a voiced quality added to

      Okay, there's a lot more, but I'm starting to ramble. If you want, I can
      keep going in this vein; although I do ask that people correct me if I am

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