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Perceptual similarity in loanword adaptation: English postvocalic word-final stops in Korean

  • Yoonjung Kang (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 August 2003

When an English word with a postvocalic word-final stop is adapted to Korean, a vowel is variably inserted after the final stop. Vowel insertion in this position is puzzling not only because of its variability but also because of the fact that it is not motivated by the native phonology in any obvious way. After providing a thorough description of the vowel-insertion pattern on the basis of a survey of a large body of data, the paper proposes that vowel insertion is motivated to improve the perceptual similarity between the English input and the Korean output as well as to obey a morphophonemic restriction in Korean. The paper provides strong evidence that non-contrastive phonetic details of lending or borrowing languages are relevant in the process of loanword adaptation and at the same time suggests a richer view of loanword phonology, one which involves interaction of phonetic, phonemic and morphophonemic factors.

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I would like to thank Christina Bethin, Ellen Broselow, Yiya Chen, Louis Goldstein, Michael Kenstowicz, Youngjoo Lee, Zhiqiang Li, Sharon Peperkamp, Donca Steriade, Cheryl Zoll, the participants in the Structure of Korean seminar at Yale University in the spring of 2001, where this paper originated, and audience members at SUNY Stony Brook Colloquium, NELS 32, MIT Phonology Circle and LSA 2002 for their discussions and comments on earlier versions of the paper. I would also like to thank an associate editor and three reviewers for their detailed and thoughtful comments, which greatly improved the content and presentation of the paper.
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  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
  • URL: /core/journals/phonology
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