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If <i>rendaku</i> isn&#8217;t a rule, what in the world is it?

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Abstract

The morphophonemic voicing phenomenon in Japanese known as <i>rendaku</i> is highly irregular, but several factors are believed to make <i>rendaku</i> more or less likely. This paper reviews some experiments intended to test the psychological reality of three such factors: Lyman&#8217;s Law, the semantic relationship between the two elements in noun + verb compound nouns, and salient semantic or phonological resemblances between novel compounds and existing compounds. The evidence suggests that each of these factors has at least a detectable effect on responses in experimental situations. Any realistic overall account of <i>rendaku</i> will have to incorporate a signi&#64257;cant degree of intractable irregularity, but it will also have to be consistent with the intuition of na&#239;ve native speakers that <i>rendaku</i> is predictable.

References

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