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[IUC Lecture Series] Rendaku: A Notoriously Irregular Aspect of the Japanese Language


  • *This program has finished.
  • Lecturer: Timothy J. Vance (Professor, National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics)
  • Date: Thursday, March 2, 2017, 6:00-7:30 pm
  • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
  • Language: Japanese (without English interpretation)
  • Organizers: International House of Japan, Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, and Nippon Foundation
  • Admission: Free (reservations required)

The term rendaku (sequential voicing) refers to a phenomenon that is familiar to anyone who has studied Japanese. One example is the word “寿司 (sushi),” which is pronounced “zushi” when it forms a compound like “回転寿司 (kaiten-zushi).” In regard to when rendaku occurs and when it does not, no all-encompassing rule exists. Variations can be seen in different times and places as well as in people’s sentiments about its phonetic effects. Professor Vance will attempt to unravel some of the mysteries of rendaku.

Timothy J. Vance

Photo: Timothy J. VanceProfessor Vance attended the IUC during the 1976–77 academic year and completed his Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Chicago in 1979. His areas of specialization are phonetics, phonology, and writing systems. He taught at the University of Florida, the University of Hawaii, Connecticut College, and the University of Arizona before moving to the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics in Tokyo in 2010. His publications include An Introduction to Japanese Phonology (State University of New York Press, 1987) and The Sounds of Japanese (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and he served as coordinating editor of Japanese Language and Literature (the journal of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese) for ten years (2000–09).


*This lecture series is part of the Nippon Foundation Fellows Program at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies.