Text-setting, the arrangement of language to music, is a common source of evidence in the debate over the relevance of the syllable in Japanese prosody (e.g., Labrune 2012). Although Japanese text-setting is typically treated as mora-based, the present corpus analysis reveals that syllable-based text-setting is pervasive in Japanese. Two studies presented here compare native Japanese songs with those translated into Japanese. The results demonstrate use of syllabic settings throughout the corpora and across the lexical strata of Japanese. Syllabic settings are shown to arise with greater likelihood in response to pressures imposed by restrictive translation contexts, information density mismatch, and knowledge of correspondence to English loans. We argue that, given the viability of syllabic text-setting in Japanese, moraic text-setting is a stylistic norm of Japanese music that is shifting over time, rather than evidence of a lack of syllable structure in the language’s prosodic system.
prosodic structure, syllable, text-setting, lexical strata, Japanese
How to Cite
Starr, R. & Shih, S., (2017) “The syllable as a prosodic unit in Japanese lexical strata: Evidence from text-setting”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 93. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.355