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Rendaku (連濁, Japanese pronunciation: [ɾendakɯ], lit. "sequential voicing") is a phenomenon in Japanesemorphophonology that governs the voicing of the initial consonant of the non-initial portion of a compound or prefixed word. In modern Japanese, rendaku is common but at times unpredictable, with certain words unaffected by it.
While kanji do not indicate rendaku, they are marked in kana with dakuten (voicing mark).
In some cases, rendaku varies depending on syntax. For instance, the suffix tōri (〜通り, "road, following"), from tōru (通る, "to go, to follow"), is pronounced as -tōri (〜とおり) following the perfective verb, as in omotta-tōri (思った通り, "as I thought"), but is pronounced as -dōri (〜どおり, with rendaku) when following a noun, as in yotei-dōri (予定通り, "as planned, according to schedule") or, semantically differently – more concretely – Muromachi-dōri (室町通, "Muromachi Street").
Properties blocking rendaku
Research into defining the range of situations affected by rendaku has largely been limited to finding circumstances (outlined below) which cause the phenomenon not to manifest.
Lyman's Law states that there can be no more than one voiced obstruent (a consonant sound formed by obstructing airflow) within a morpheme. Therefore, no rendaku can occur if the second element contains a voiced obstruent. This is considered to be one of the most fundamental of the rules governing rendaku.
yama + kado > Yamakado, not *Yamagado ("mountain" + "gate" > place name) (* indicates a non-existent form)
hitori + tabi > hitoritabi, not *hitoridabi ("one person" + "travel" > "traveling alone")
Despite a number of rules which have been formulated to help explain the distribution of the effect of rendaku, there still remain many examples of words in which rendaku manifests in ways currently unpredictable. Some instances are linked with a lexical property as noted above but others may obey laws yet to be discovered. Rendaku thus remains partially unpredictable, sometimes presenting a problem even to native speakers, particularly in Japanese names, where rendaku occurs or fails to occur often without obvious cause. In many cases, an identically written name may either have or not have rendaku, depending on the person. For example, 中田 may be read in a number of ways, including both Nakata and Nakada.
Voicing of preceding consonant
In some cases, voicing of preceding consonants also occurs, as in sazanami (細波, ripple), which was formerly sasa-nami. This is rare and irregular, however.
^Otsu, Yukio (1980). "Some aspects of rendaku in Japanese and related problems". MIT Working Papers in Linguistics: Theoretical Issues in Japanese Linguistics 2: 207–227.
Endō, Kunimoto (1981). "Hirendaku no Hōzoku no Shōchō to Sono Imi: Dakushion to Bion to no Kankei kara". Cite journal requires |journal= (help) (Japanese citation: 遠藤邦基(1981)「非連濁の法則の消長とその意味―濁子音と鼻音との関係から―」(『国語国文』50-3))
Irwin, Mark (April 2005). "Rendaku-based Lexical Hierarchies in Japanese: The Behaviour of Sino-Japanese Mononoms in Hybrid Noun Compounds". Journal of East Asian Linguistics. 14 (2): 121–153. doi:10.1007/s10831-004-6306-9. ISSN0925-8558.