Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 113–144

Half rhymes in Japanese rap lyrics and knowledge of similarity

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10831-007-9009-1

Cite this article as:
Kawahara, S. J East Asian Linguist (2007) 16: 113. doi:10.1007/s10831-007-9009-1

Abstract

Using data from a large-scale corpus, this paper establishes the claim that in Japanese rap rhymes, the degree of similarity of two consonants positively correlates with their likelihood of making a rhyme pair. For example, similar consonant pairs like {m-n}, {t-s}, and {r-n} frequently rhyme whereas dissimilar consonant pairs like {m-∫}, {w-k}, and {n-p} rarely do. The current study adds to a body of literature that suggests that similarity plays a fundamental role in half rhyme formation (A. Holtman, 1996, A generative theory of rhyme: An optimality approach, PhD dissertation. Utrecht Institute of Linguistics; R. Jakobson, 1960, Linguistics and poetics: Language in literature, Harvard University Press, Cambridge; D. Steriade, 2003, Knowledge of similarity and narrow lexical override, Proceedings of Berkeley Linguistics Society, 29, 583–598; A. Zwicky, 1976, This rock-and-roll has got to stop: Junior’s head is hard as a rock. Proceedings of Chicago Linguistics Society, 12, 676–697). Furthermore, it is shown that Japanese speakers take acoustic details into account when they compose rap rhymes. This study thus supports the claim that speakers possess rich knowledge of psychoacoustic similarity (D. Steriade, 2001a, Directional asymmetries in place assimilation. In E. Hume, & K. Johnson (Eds.), The role of speech perception in phonology (pp. 219–250). San Diego: Academic Press.; D. Steriade, 2001b, The phonology of perceptibility effects: The P-map and its consequences for constraint organization, ms., University of California, Los Angeles; D. Steriade, 2003, Knowledge of similarity and narrow lexical override, Proceedings of Berkeley Linguistics Society, 29, 583–598).

Keywords

Similarity Half-rhymes Verbal art P-map 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics, 226 South CollegeUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA