Phonological Characteristics of the Japanese Lexicon

Project leader: KUBOZONO Haruo
Professor, Department of Linguistic Theory and Structure, NINJAL
Keywords: phonetics, phonology, cross-linguistic studies
Project website: /phonology/


This project investigates the phonetic and phonological properties of Japanese, placing its main focus on sokuon (geminate consonants) and accent. It aims to clarify the main characteristics of the language in comparison with other languages of the world. Regarding sokuon, the project attempts to illuminate the rhythmic structure of Japanese and the perceptual strategies that its native speakers employ by revealing the linguistic conditions on sokuon in loanwords and their phonetic/phonological bases. Results of this study can hopefully be applied to the teaching of Japanese as a second language as well as to education for people with language impairments. Research on accent, on the other hand, studies the prosodic systems of a variety of Japanese dialects in comparison with languages having other accent and tone languages, such as Ainu, Korean, Chinese and Kikuyu.

The main activities of this research project include research meetings and international symposia, both of which are to be held on a regular basis. Its research results will be presented at these international symposia and published in English in the form of a monograph from a domestic or overseas publisher. This project is also carried out in close collaboration with the research project led by Nobuko Kibe on endangered Japanese dialects, supporting and reinforcing this descriptive project from theoretical and crosslinguistic viewpoints.