Why Linguists Obsess about Rendaku

October 27, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room), 1890 East-West Rd.

The term rendaku 連濁 (sometimes translated as “sequential voicing”) denotes a phenomenon that is familiar to anyone who speaks Japanese. A typical example occurs in the compound word me-dama目玉 (“eyeball”). The second element of this compound is pronounced tama as a word on its own, but the initial consonant is d rather than t in me-dama. There is no all-encompassing rule that predicts when rendaku occurs and when it does not, although there are various tendencies. On the other hand, rendaku cannot simply be a matter of memorizing which compound words have it and which do not, because it is productive, that is, it often applies to newly created compounds. It is precisely because of this complexity that linguists find rendaku intriguing.

During Dr. Vance's seven years on the research staff at NINJAL, he headed a collaborative project with the stated goal of publishing an encyclopedia-like work on rendaku. Alas, the project fell short of its goal, but it did produce two wide-ranging collections of articles, one in English (published by John Benjamins in 2016) and one in Japanese (to be published by Kaitakusha later this year). This presentation will use familiar examples from everyday life to introduce some of the mysteries of rendaku. It does not presuppose any background in linguistics, and it should appeal both to native speakers of Japanese and to non-native learners at all levels of proficiency.

Event Sponsor
Center for Japanese Studies, Mānoa Campus

More Information
(808) 956-2665, cjs@hawaii.edu, http://www.hawaii.edu/cjs/10272017rendaku/

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