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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter gives a brief background on the Japanese and Ryukyuan languages, including their linguistic relation to each other as well as to other languages in the region. It provides an introduction to the controversial issues that need to be kept in mind when one attempts to reconstruct the Proto-Japonic language. The term 'Japonic language(s)' was coined by Leon A. Serafim and has been widely accepted among Japanologists; it is meant to indicate the Japanese language spoken on the main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) and the Ryukyuan language on the archipelago consisting of the three main island groups (Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima) located between Kyushu and Taiwan. The chapter touches upon theoretical issues in suprasegmental phonology, and discusses a system of pitch accent in relation to moras, syllables, pitch, stress, and tones.

Keywords: Japanese language; pitch accent; Ryukyuan language; suprasegmental phonology



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