The non-local nature of Lyman’s Law revisited
Shigeto Kawahara, Gakuji Kumagai
May 2024

Rendaku is a morphophonological process in Japanese in which the first obstruent of a second member of a compound is realized as voiced (e.g. nise+tanuki/ → [nise-danuki]). Lyman’s Law blocks this voicing process when the second member already contains a voiced obstruent, whether the blocker is in the second syllable (e.g. /zaru+soba/ → [zaru-soba]) or in the third syllable (e.g. /hi+tokage/ → [hi+tokage]). Vance (1979), a seminal experimental study on rendaku, showed that in nonce words, the blockage of rendaku by Lyman’s Law is not deterministic; moreover, it found some evidence that the blockage effect tends to be stronger when the blocker consonant is in the second syllable than in the third syllable, i.e. Lyman’s Law may be sensitive to a locality effect in nonce words. On the other hand, a naturalness judgment experiment by Kawahara (2012) failed to find this locality effect. To settle these conflicting results from the past studies, with a general issue of the replication crisis in linguistics in mind (Sönning & Werner 2021), we first conducted a large scale forced-choice experiment with 72 stimuli and with 184 native speakers of Japanese. The results show that Lyman’s Law is, overall, sensitive to a locality effect. To investigate why Kawahara (2012) failed to find a locality effect, we next replicated Kawahara (2012) with a larger number of speakers (187 participants), which found some evidence that the locality effect is identifiable in a naturalness judgment experiment as well. We conclude that Lyman’s Law is indeed sensitive to a locality effect, at least for some speakers (Vance 1979).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007710
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: rendaku, lyman’s law, dissimilation, locality, replication, experimental phonology, phonology
previous versions: v1 [August 2023]
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