A sound-symbolic alternation to express cuteness and the orthographic Lyman’s Law in Japanese
Gakuji Kumagai
November 2017
 

This paper discusses a new process in Japanese that involves a semantically driven process in which /h/ alternates with [p] in nicknaming (e.g., haruka ‘Haruka’ → paru-ru; hikaru ‘Hikaru’ + -ko ‘child’ → pika-ko). As this nicknaming process is mainly applied to female names, it is speculated that /h/ alternates with [p] to express cuteness, regardless of the surrounding contexts. This study ran an experiment that examines whether the singleton [p] is more likely to offer an image of cuteness than other consonants that can be used in Japanese. The results show that the singleton [p] is most likely to be associated with cuteness. Additionally, this study focuses on the orthographic Lyman’s Law, or OCP (diacritic), which can be defined as a constraint that prohibits two auxiliary signs from occurring in a word (Kawahara in press). In Japanese orthography, voiced obstruents (da = “だ”; ga = “が”; za = “ざ”; ba = “ば”) are expressed with a diacritical sign called a dakuten (``), and [p] (pa = “ぱ”) with a diacritical sign called a han-dakuten (°). When this fact is taken into consideration, OCP (diacritic) will prevent the singleton [p] to occur with voiced obstruents in a word. OCP (diacritic) has more explanatory power than the traditional Lyman’s Law, in the sense that it can predict the singleton [p] as well as voiced obstruents to induce the devoicing of voiced geminates (Fukazawa et al. 2015; Kawahara & Sano 2016b). The current study focuses on testing the constraint that forbids the singleton [p] to precede a voiced obstruent (i.e. [p…D], in which D denotes a voice obstruent), making use of the new nicknaming phenomenon showing /h/→[p] alternation. The experiment also examines whether the nicknaming formation can be affected by OCP-related conditions across morpheme boundaries or within a word, such as Identity Avoidance (e.g., Kawahara & Sano 2014a, 2016a; Kumagai & Kawahara 2017a) and OCP-labial effect (Kumagai 2017). The conclusion drawn by the second experiment is that *[p…D] is psychologically real in the minds of Japanese speakers, and that the /h/→[p] alternation in the new nicknames created is more likely to cease in OCP-related conditions.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003738
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted
keywords: sound symbolism; cuteness; lyman’s law; identity avoidance; ocp-labial effect; japanese nicknaming, phonology
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