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Phonotactically-Driven Rendaku in Surnames: A Linguistic Study Using Social Media
Yu Tanaka
519-528 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Like regular compound words, Japanese surnames with a compound structure can undergo a voicing alternation known as rendaku. Rendaku application in surnames is somewhat different from that in regular compounds, however; the voicing alternation is governed by avoidance of consonant sequences that are similar in terms of voicing and place. Although the peculiarity of rendaku in surnames has been noted in the literature (see Sugito, 1965 among others), no study has provided a full description or explanation of the patterns. The first aim of this study is thus to better describe the data. A corpus of rendaku in surnames is created using social media, which enables us to assess comprehensively and quantitatively the validity of proposed generalizations. The second aim of the study is to explain why rendaku applies in a different manner in names and in normal words. It is proposed that compound names are treated as if they are single stems and that the peculiar rendaku patterns in surnames can be attributed to stem-internal phonotactics, such as dispreferences for the occurrence of multiple voiced obstruents or sequential homorganic voiceless obstruents within stems.

Published in

Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents
Printed edition: $410.00