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Morpheme-Based Rendaku as a Rhythmic Stabilizer in Eastern Old Japanese Poetry

Author(s): KUPCHIK, John

Journal: Acta Linguistica Asiatica
ISSN 2232-3317

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 9;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: phonology | phonetics | Old Japanese | rendaku | poetry

This paper explores the functions of morpheme-based rendaku, or “sequential voicing”, in Eastern Old Japanese poetry, with a focus on its function of maintaining rhythmic stability in poetic verse. It is argued that this function is implemented to avoid a hypermetrical line when no adjacent vowels exist as candidates for synchronic elision. Furthermore, a comparison with synchronic vowel elision is conducted. Based on the results, it is argued that morpheme-based rendaku is preferred to synchronic vowel elision when both are available options for maintaining the rhythmic stability of a line. Linguistic constraints blocking morpheme-based rendaku are also discussed to explain hypermetrical examples with potential, yet unrealized, morpheme-based rendaku.
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