Hidden prosody in philology: yìyŭ 'transcriptions' in the 15th century

  • Chihkai Lin


This paper investigates how prosody is hidden behind transcriptions in historical resources. Three historical sources are used in the analysis. They are Chinese transcriptions from the 15th century in which Japanese, Korean and Ryukyuan phrases are recorded using Chinese characters. The argument concentrates on the prosodic patterns of disyllabic nouns in the three historical sources. The results of chi-square tests show that in the transcriptions Korean is significantly different from Japanese and Ryukyuan. In disyllabic nouns, the Chinese tonal category shăngshēng is favored in the first syllable of the Korean data to show changes from low to high tone. On the other hand, the transition is not salient in the Japanese and Ryukyuan data. In addition, the Chinese tonal cateogry yīnpíng is disfavored in the first syllable of the Korean data, whereas Chinese yīnpíng is not overtly excluded from the first syllable of Japanese and Ryukyuan data. This paper also discusses the projection of prosodic characteristics from Chinese onto the transcriptions: the second syllable in a disyllabic noun tends to be qùshēng.