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Japanese has syllables: a reply to Labrune*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2016

Shigeto Kawahara*
Keio University


Labrune (2012b) proposes a syllable-less theory of Japanese, suggesting that Japanese has no syllables, with only moras below the foot. She argues that there is no phonetic or psycholinguistic evidence for the existence of syllables in Japanese. This reply summarises and re-examines previous experimental findings that demonstrate that Japanese does show evidence for syllables both phonetically and psycholinguistically. After an extensive review of previous studies, this reply also takes up a number of phonological and theoretical issues that require an explicit response from the perspective of a syllable proponent. On the basis of these considerations, this paper concludes that Japanese does have syllables.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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I am very grateful for the critical yet constructive comments that I received from three anonymous reviewers as well as the associate editor. They helped me flesh out the arguments presented in a previous version of this paper. Comments from the following people were also helpful in either developing my initial ideas and/or addressing the comments that I received from the associate editor and the reviewers: Robert Daland, Donna Erickson, Osamu Fujimura, Haruka Fukazawa, Dylan Herrick, Junko Ito, Mayuki Matsui, Michinao Matsui, Armin Mester, Jeff Moore, Takashi Otake, Miho Sasaki, Helen Stickney, Yoko Sugioka and Yukiko Sugiyama. Preparation of this paper was partly supported by two JSPS Kakenhi grants, #26770147 and #26284059. Remaining errors are mine.


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