chapter  4
16 Pages

Making the form fi t

In Chapter 1 we saw that different languages have different phonologies. One of the clearest illustrations of this fact is provided by the adaptation of loanwords to the phonology of the borrowing language. In this process, speakers will interpret the pronunciation of the words of the foreign language in terms of the phonological elements of their own. The way in which they do this can tell us a great deal about the phonology of the speaker’s native language. For example, the French pronunciation [filiŋ] for English [filŋ] reveals that French does not distinguish tense and lax vowels, and uses [i] for both [i] and []. Second, it places the stress on the last syllable, regardless of where the stress was in the original word. In this chapter we will discuss the process of nativization, and illustrate it mainly on the basis of English loans in Hawaiian and one Indonesian loanword in Konjo. These languages have very different phonologies, the phonology of English being much more complex than that of Hawaiian, in particular. After showing how the pronunciation of foreign words is constrained – or shaped – by the phonological structure of the native language, it is pointed out that the phonological representation of native morphemes, too, may need to be adjusted. This need may arise when morphemes are combined. If a language with the syllable structure (C)V(C) only allows a coda consonant in word-final position, something will have to be done whenever a consonant-initial suffix like [ka] is attached to a consonant-final base like [taf], since *[tafka] would be ill-formed. In order to describe phonological adjustments, two approaches have been adopted: rules and constraints. The difference between these two approaches is briefly explained and illustrated.