Japanese Accent

Haruo Kubozono

in The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Linguistics

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780195307344
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Japanese Accent

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  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Language Families


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This article illustrates the simplicity of (Tokyo) Japanese accent through a review of recent studies, addressing the accent rule of morphologically simplex nouns. It also proposes a further generalization of Japanese accent by showing that what appears to be complicated accent behavior of compound nouns can be attributed to a general rule which permits a certain class of lexical exceptions. The article then demonstrates that the generalized rule of compound accent can be further generalized with the accent rule of morphologically simplex nouns, as well as with the accent rule of verbs and adjectives. Moreover, the Japanese accent in view of loanword phonology is described, wherein implications of Japanese accent for the central issue of loanword phonology are discussed. The article argues for two types of accent underspecification in the lexicon—one for lexical items themselves and the other for their accent behavior in compounds.

Keywords: Japanese accent; morphologically simplex nouns; accent rule; verbs; adjectives; loanword phonology; lexicon

Article.  11312 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Phonetics and Phonology ; Language Families

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