The relationship between the perception of non-native phonotactics and loanword adaptation

Lisa Davidson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This study examines how phonetic details produced by non-bilingual borrowers ('disseminators') are categorised when new words are transmitted to the monolinguals of the borrowing language community ('recipients'). The stimuli are based on research showing that the schwa inserted by English speakers into non-native clusters (e.g. /zgamo/→[z gamo]) differs acoustically from lexical schwa (e.g. [z∂gamo]). In Experiment 1, listeners transcribed Cluster (CC), Lexical (C∂C) and Transitional (C C) stimuli produced by an English speaker. Transcriptions of C C stimuli were split between CC and CVC, and participants wrote C C with a vowel less often than they did C∂C. Experiment 2 demonstrated that listeners had difficulty discriminating between C C and both CC and C∂C. These findings suggest that C C is acoustically intermediate between clusters and schwas; thus recipients may assign C ∂;C token to either of the phonotactic categories CC or C∂C. The ramifications of these findings for loanwords and the acquisition of phonological contrast are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)261-286
    Number of pages26
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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