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95. Loanword Phonology

Yoonjung Kang


Subject Theoretical Linguistics » Phonology

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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184236.2011.00097.x


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“Loanwords” are words borrowed from one language to another. These borrowed words usually undergo “adaptation” processes to conform to the structural constraints of the borrowing language phonology. Such adaptation affects all facets of phonological structure, reflecting the segmental, phonotactic, suprasegmental, and morphophonological restrictions of the borrowing language. The patterns that emerge in loanword adaptation often reveal aspects of native speakers' knowledge that are not necessarily obvious in data of the native language and, as a result, loanword data can inform our analysis of the native phonology ( Hyman 1970 ; Holden 1976 ; Ahn and Iverson 2004 ; Kawahara 2008 ; Wetzels 2009 ; Chang, forthcoming, among others). In this respect, loanword adaptation can be considered a real-life Wug test ( Berko 1958 ) which can enable us to probe into the grammatical knowledge of speakers in ways that native data alone cannot. Conversely, however, such emergent patterns in loanword adaptation present a learnability puzzle (cf. Broselow 2009 ): if a loanword pattern is underdetermined by the native phonology, where does the pattern come from? Also, what type of representation does the adaptation process refer to as it searches for licit forms in the borrowing language that most closely match the foreign language input? Is it an abstract phonological representation, a detailed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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