I am a longtime fan of the Street Fighter series, but never before have I been able to incorperate the game series into a blog on linguistics. Today, it worked!
Above we find a video fo Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, with Yang performing his Super Art I on Ryu.
The name of the Super Art I is 'Raishin Mahhaken' or 雷震魔破拳 （らいしんまっはけん） which translates to something 'lightning-quake demon-ripping fist'.
That's perfectly fine and sufficiently over the top for the technique shown, but what really struck me is the absurd /hh/ in this move. The elements in this word all consist of kanji which use the On-yomi (chinese loan pronunciation).
雷 /rai/, 震 /sin/, 魔 /ma/, 破 /ha/, 拳 /ken/.
If one has recently read my post on Japanese language strata it would be known that gemination of the following consonant can only be triggered if the On-yomi of the syllable before it on its own would end in /ku/, /tsu/, /ki/ or /ti/. Yet there is no reading /maku/,/matsu/,/maki/ or /mati/ for the character 魔. So there's nothing that should trigger the gemination. On top of that, gemination of /h/ should always yield /pp/ For exmample /niti/+/hon/ gives /nippon/. Interestingly this combination can also yield /nihon/ which is the more common pronunciation for 'Japan'. So, when the rules would yield a geminate but /p/ is avoided, the word automatically becomes a non-geminate /h/ instead, seemingly avoiding the /hh/.
Why then is this word pronounced with an /hh/ which is quite audible, and also written as such? Is it done to make the word sound more 'foreign' after all, the fighter Yang is from Hong Kong.
The only two other words that I can think of that have /hh/ are /mahha/ 'Mach' and /fangohho/ 'Van Gogh' which are quite foreign.
Even if the word had been pronounced /raisinmappaken/ I would probably still be blogging about it, since there is no reason for the geminate to appear in the first place.
Also the kanji is found in a much more common compound with /h/ where it does not trigger gemination 魔法 /mahoo/ 'magic'.
Are there any other instances of Japanese introducing geminates in Chinese compounds where they are not expected considering their On-yomi? I can't think of any.
Very strange indeed, very interested to hear if anyone has a suggestion how this came to be.
On a only vaguely related note I wanted to draw attention to the bizarre language spoken on Oogami Island. It is a Ryukyuan language, which means it is remotely related to Japanese, which is pretty hard to believe when you see some of the cognates.
Let me cite some example shown by Amritas:
Oogami pstu Japanese hito
Oogami kff Japanese tsukuri
Oogami pss Japanese hi
That's right, Oogami has /s/ and /f/ that can stand in the vocalic position of a syllable. This is pretty weird to begin with, but there are at least some other languages in the world that can do the same thing. Nuxálk comes to mind. There's quite a few languages that can have consonants like r, l, m or n function as vowels in a syllable, and there's also quite a few that can use other consonants too, like fricatives, but it's probably unique to Oogami that it can only use voiceless fricatives to function as vowels.
To think that this language is quite transparently related to Japanese still is baffling, as Japanese is a language with, at least in it's native stratum almost exclusively has CV syllable structure where only vowels can take up the position of V.
The internet has blessed us with a fantastic online PDF version of Ōgami - Éléments de description d'un parler du sud des Ryūkyū by Thomas Pellard. Enjoy!