This paper addresses two problems in loanword phonology: (i) why some foreign structures are more likely to be preserved than other equally novel foreign structures and (ii) why particular repairs for foreign structures are favored, even when the native language offers a choice of possible mappings to legal native structures. The paper focuses on the adaptation of the structures [ti] and [si] in English words borrowed into Japanese. Although neither [ti] nor [si] is attested in the native Japanese vocabulary, [ti] is far more likely than [si] to be preserved in established loans. We argue that the constraint rankings required to account for the preservation of [ti] and concurrent repair of [si] arose naturally from a perceptual asymmetry, providing experimental evidence that speakers of both Japanese and English are better able to discriminate ti-chi than si-shi. In contrast, we present evidence against the hypothesis that the preference for repair of these sequences by palatalization of the consonant vs. change in the vowel is based in universal perceptual similarity relationships, arguing that this pattern instead reflects the native language grammar.
Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Nathan Arnett and Ryan Bennett Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-454-6 library binding
v + 334 pages
publication date: 2012
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA