, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 531-547

Frequency of occurrence for units of phonemes, morae, and syllables appearing in a lexical corpus of a Japanese newspaper

Abstract

On the basis of the lexical corpus created by Amano and Kondo (2000), using theAsahi newspaper, the present study provides frequencies of occurrence for units of Japanese phonemes, morae, and syllables. Among the five vowels, /a/ (23.42%), /i/ (21.54%), /u/ (23.47%), and /o/ (20.63%) showed similar frequency rates, whereas /e/ (10.94%) was less frequent. Among the 12 consonants, /k/ (17.24%), /t/ (15.53%), and /r/ (13.11%) were used often, whereas /p/ (0.60%) and /b/ (2.43%) appeared far less frequently. Among the contracted sounds, /sj/ (36.44%) showed the highest frequency, whereas /mj/ (0.27%) rarely appeared. Among the five long vowels, /ar/ (34.4%) was used most frequently, whereas /ur/ (12.11%) was not used so often. The special sound /n/ appeared very frequently in Japanese. The syllable combination /k/+V+/n/ (19.91%) appeared most frequently among syllabic combinations with the nasal /n/. The geminate (or voiceless obstruent) /q/, when placed before the four consonants /p/, /t/, /k/, and /s/, appeared 98.87% of the time, but the remaining 1.13% did not follow the definition. The special sounds /r/, /n/, and /q/ seem to appear very frequently in Japanese, suggesting that they are notspecial in terms of frequency counts. The present study further calculated frequencies for the 33 newly and officially listed morae/syllables, which are used particularly for describing alphabetic loanwords. In addition, the top 20 bi-mora frequency combinations are reported. Files of frequency indexes may be downloaded from the Psychonomic Society Web archive athttp://www.psychonomic.org/archive/.