SOKENDAI Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.20 (2024)

A Quantitative Analysis of the Close Central Vowel [ɨ]
in the Nakachi Dialect of Irabu Ryukyuan

Determining its Phonemic Status based on its Distribution

ELMER Patrick

Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology

Key words:

Proto-Ryukyuan, Irabu language, close central vowel, phonemic analysis, computational linguistics

In this study, the phonemic status of the close central vowel [ɨ] in the Nakachi dialect of the Southern Ryukyuan language of Irabu is examined. This study focuses on quantitative phonological analysis to clarify the distribution of [ɨ] and phonetically similar sounds in relation to the preceding and following phonetic environments and the position in the word. The distribution of the relevant sounds [i], [ɨ], [], and [ɹ] are examined using a large set of data from a dictionary (Tomihama 2013). This study demonstrates how distributional analysis can be conducted computationally. The results confirm the general distribution of sounds in the Nakachi dialect, as shown by Tomihama (2013), and provide objective evidence that the close central vowel [ɨ] is an allophone of /i/.