22 Apr 2003
Grammatical and Non-Grammatical Factors in Loanword Adaptation
This talk aims to include not only phonological differences between borrowing and donor language in the study of loanwords, but also factors which may not depend solely on these differences, e.g. similarity, frequency and gradient grammaticality. The influence of these factors on the performance of English speakers in a shadowing task of Russian words with English-illegal initial clusters was tested. The frequency of potential adapted onsets in the English lexicon does not correlate with the strategy of adaptation. Judgments about the grammaticality of words containing illegal initial clusters and the similarity between pairs of words partially containing illegal onsets were obtained from English native speakers. Similarity of a target to an adaptation was shown to be a predictor of its rate of use. The perceived grammaticality of a target cluster influenced performance in two ways: high-grammaticality target clusters were modified less often, and low-grammaticality clusters were mostly associated with vowel epenthesis.