Preference for Deletion vs. Epenthesis in Japanese Phonological Adaptations

Lexical Stratification and Input Medium




Japanese, phonological adaptation, deletion, epenthesis, verb formation


This study investigated phonological adaptation of non-loan words in Japanese and their preference for either deletion or epenthesis. Earlier studies argue that non-loan Japanese words prefer deletion while loanwords prefer epenthesis. Studies further show that the input medium affects the adaptation; text-input leads to epenthesis while sound-input to deletion. The present study experimented with text-input of non-loan nonce words and investigated how native Japanese speakers adapt their causative, passive, and potential forms. Results showed a strong preference for deletion in causative forms, a relatively weak preference for deletion in potential forms, and no significant preference in passive forms. The outcome indicates that deletion is not present by default, and further investigation is needed to define factors that influence the selection.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

  • SHOJI Shinichi, Mie University

    Assistant professor

    Organization for the development of higher educaiton and regional human resources

    Mie University


Altenburg, E. P. & Vago, R. M. (1987). Theoretical implications of an error analysis of second language phonology production. In G. Loup & S. Weinberger (Eds.), Internlanguage phonology: The acquisition of a second language sound system (pp. 148–164). Cambridge, MA: Newbury House.

Fukazawa, H., Kitahara, M., & Ota, M. (1998). Lexical Stratification and Ranking Invariance in Constraint-based Grammars. Proceedings of Chicago Linguistic Society 34.

Hancin-Bhatt, B. (2008). Second language phonology in optimality theory. In J. G. H. Edward & M. L. Zampini (Eds.), Phonology and second language education (pp. 117–146). Amsterdom, Netherlands: John Benjamins. DOI:

Kubozono, H. (1997). Lexical markedness and variation: A non-derivational account. West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics 15. Stanford, CA: CSLI, 273-287.

Kubozono, H. (2002). Prosodic structure of loanwords in Japanese: Syllable structure, accent and morphology. Journal of Phonetic Society 6, 79-97.

Lovins, Julie. B. (1975). Loanwords and the Phonological Structure of Japanese. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistic Club.

Mathieu, L. (2012). Orthographic traces in Romanian and Japanese loanwords: Enriching phonological representations. Journal of Language Contact 5, 144-181. DOI:

Mattingley, M., Hall, K. C., & Hume E. (2019). Epenthetic vowel production of unfamiliar medial consonant clusters by Japanese speakers. Laboratory Phonology 10, 1-35. DOI:

Mori, Masatoshi. (1929). The pronunciation of Japanese. Tokyo, Japan: The Harald-sha.

McCawley, J. (1968). The Phonological Component of a Grammar of Japanese. The Hague: Mouton & Co.

Sapir, Edward. (1921). Language: An introduction to the study of speech. Eahway, NJ: Quinn & Boden Company.

Shibuya, K. (1993). Nihongo kanou hyougen no shosou to hatten [Aspects and development of Japanese potential expressions] Bulletin of School of Letters, Osaka University 33, 1-262.

Shoji, S. & Shoji, K. (2014). Vowel epenthesis and consonant deletion in Japanese loanwords from English. Supplemental Proceedings of Annual Meetings on Phonology 2013. Retrieved from: DOI:

Smith, J. L. (2006). Loan phonology is not all perception: Evidence from Japanese loan doublets. In T. Vance (Ed.), Japanese/Korean Linguistics 14 (pp. 63–74). Stanford, CA: CSLI.



30. 01. 2022



Research articles

How to Cite

Shoji, S. (2022). Preference for Deletion vs. Epenthesis in Japanese Phonological Adaptations: Lexical Stratification and Input Medium. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 12(1), 9-18.