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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: The role of psychoacoustic similarity in Japanese puns: A corpus study
Author: Shigeto Kawahara
Institution: Rutgers University
Author: Kazuko Shinohara
Institution: Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Phonology; Psycholinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: Japanese
Abstract: A growing body of recent work on the phonetics–phonology interface argues that many phonological patterns refer to psychoacoustic similarity – perceived similarity between sounds based on detailed acoustic information. In particular, two corresponding elements in phonology (e.g. inputs and outputs) are required to be as psychoacoustically similar as possible (Steriade 2001a, b, 2003; Fleischhacker 2005; Kawahara 2006; Zuraw 2007). Using a corpus of Japanese imperfect puns, this paper lends further support to this claim. Our corpus-based study shows that when Japanese speakers compose puns, they require two corresponding consonants to be as similar as possible, and the measure of similarity rests on psychoacoustic information. The result supports the hypothesis that speakers possess a rich knowledge of psychoacoustic similarity and deploy that knowledge in shaping verbal art patterns.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 45, Issue 1.

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