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The methods of spatial statistics have been successfully applied to the study of linguistic variation, especially for detecting the existence of spatial patterns in the geographical distribution of linguistic features. However, the use of local indicators of spatial autocorrelation for detecting spatial clusters have been limited to continuous variables, and we propose to apply the new method of Anselin and Li (2019) for categorical variables to linguistic data. We illustrate this method with the case of Japanese rendaku, or sequential voicing, whose dialectal variation is still poorly documented. Focusing on regional differences in the frequency of rendaku, we examined the occurrence of rendaku for four lexemes in 4,921 place names from all Japan. A statistical analysis of local spatial association and an unsupervised density-based cluster analysis revealed the existence of two cluster areas of high rendaku frequency centered around Wakayama and Fukushima-Yamagata prefectures. This suggests that rendaku is more frequent in those dialects, and we recommend that further studies in the dialectal variation of rendaku start by looking at those areas.
Modern Japanese has a set of morphophonemic alternations known collectively as rendaku that involve initial consonants in second elements of compounds, as in /jama+dera/ ‘mountain temple’ (cf. /tera/ ‘temple’). An alternating element like /tera/ ~ /dera/ has an initial voiced obstruent in its rendaku allomorph and an initial voiceless obstruent in its non-rendaku allomorph. Lyman's Law blocks rendaku in a second element containing a medial voiced obstruent. This paper gives three arguments that Lyman's Law originated as a constraint prohibiting prenasalisation in consecutive syllables. First, constraints on similar consonants in close proximity generally apply not to voicing but to features with phonetic cues that are more spread out, such as prenasalisation. Second, in some Japanese dialects with prenasalised voiced obstruents, rendaku cannot occur if it would result in adjacent syllables containing these marked consonants. Third, phonographically attested Old Japanese compounds are consistent with a constraint on adjacent syllables.
The Great Plains of North America have a rich archaeological record that spans the period from Late Glacial to Historic times, a period that also witnessed significant changes in climate and ecology. Chronometric dating of archaeological sites in many areas of the Great Plains, however, is often problematic, largely because charcoal and wood—the preferred materials for radiocarbon dating—are scarce in this grassland environment with few trees. Two reference archaeological sites are studied here: Mustang Spring and Lubbock Lake, Texas, USA. We carry out a geochronological approach based on a cross-study of carbon-derived data: combustion yield, δ13C, 14C age differences between high temperature and low temperature released carbon, and the 14C age itself. A study that incorporates multiple approaches is required to solve issues induced by the sedimentological context, which is rich in both freshwater diatoms and phytoliths from quite different origins. Analysis of carbon-derived data allows us to draw a succession model of dry and wet episodes and to associate it with a chronological framework. In this way, we can assert that, for the Mustang Spring site, several human occupations existed from ∼11 kyr BP to ∼8.7 kyr BP along the 110-cm-long series with an interruption of ∼150 yr that is associated with a palustrine environment between the Plainview and Firstview occupations.
The Japanese writing system is frequently singled
out for the dubious distinction of being the modern world's
most complex, and the amount of time and effort that public
figures in Japan have spent promoting and resisting script
reform in this century seems to have been in direct proportion
to the system's complexity. The two books under review
are important contributions to the documentation and interpretation
of this protracted and acrimonious struggle.