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Non-native contrasts in Tongan loans

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 April 2019

Kie Zuraw
University of California, Los Angeles
Kathleen Chase O'Flynn
University of California, Los Angeles
Kaeli Ward
University of California, Los Angeles


We present three case studies of marginal contrasts in Tongan loans from English, working with data from three speakers. Although Tongan lacks contrasts in stress or in CC vs. CVC sequences, secondary stress in loans is contrastive, and is sensitive to whether a vowel has a correspondent in the English source word; vowel deletion is also sensitive to whether a vowel is epenthetic as compared to the English source; and final vowel length is sensitive to whether the penultimate vowel is epenthetic, and if not, whether it corresponds to a stressed or unstressed vowel in the English source. We provide an analysis in the multilevel model of Boersma (1998) and Boersma & Hamann (2009), and show that the loan patterns can be captured using only constraints that plausibly are needed for native-word phonology, including constraints that reflect perceptual strategies.

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We thank Manu Tu'uholoaki, Saia Moala and Piula Tonga for their expertise in the Tongan language and their patience in assisting with this project. Other participants in the UCLA linguistics field methods course also helped shape this project: Natasha Abner, Nicki Acker, Byron Ahn, Jason Bishop, Heather Burnett, Nancy Finifter, Marc Garellek, Hilda Koopman, Grace Kuo, James Pannacciulli, Craig Sailor and James White. Audiences at UCLA, UC Berkeley, UMass, Stanford University and Seoul National University provided valuable feedback, especially John Kingston and Jongho Jun. We are grateful to the UCLA statistics consulting staff for their help, especially Xiao Chen, Phil Ender, Andy Lin and Christine Wells. This research was supported by funding from the UCLA Academic Senate's Committee on Research.


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