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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 24, 2015

Loanword adaptation: Phonological and cognitive issues

Mathilde Hutin


In this paper, I focus on loanwords, and more specifically on the process known as loanword adaptation, namely the process by which a word’s original phonetics is altered to phonologically fit the borrowing language. More precisely, I seek to determine whether release bursts after the word-final coda in an English input might be responsible for final vowel epenthesis in the corresponding Korean output. To test this hypothesis, I compiled an original database listing English words that entered Korean until very recently. The analysis of that database actually supports the hypothesis. In a final conclusion, I discuss what this demonstration tells us about loanword adaptation and the process of borrowing from a psycholinguistic point of view. In particular, I emphasize the importance of both perception and native phonology in the process of loanword adaptation and conclude that Korean speakers seem indeed to be subject to the ‘perceptual magnet effect’, seeking (phonological) prototypes from various acoustic cues, and that so-called fine-grained phonetic detail has to be explored for a better understanding of phonological processes from a cognitive point of view.

Published Online: 2015-11-24
Published in Print: 2015-11-27

© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston