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Title:Phonological analysis of Japanese adaptations of foreign words
Authors:Shigeko Shinohara
Comment:These, University of Sorbonne-Nouvelle, around 200 pages, in French
Abstract:Phonological analysis of Japanese adaptations of foreign words (1997)


University of Sorbonne-Nouvelle

We analyse "Japanese adaptations" of foreign words (mostly from French

and English). By "adaptation" we mean the process whereby Japanese

native speakers adjust foreign words in such a way that the resulting

forms are acceptable as Japanese sound sequences. Forms of foreign

origin such as adapted forms often possess characteristics not found

in native words. A comparison between an adapted form and the

corresponding word in the source language reveals the rules and

constraints of Japanese as well as Universal Grammar (UG). Our main

goals are to show: 1) the significance of the constraint-based

approach to phonology; 2) the role of UG in the adaptation process.

Data are analysed in the Optimality Theory (OT) (Prince &

Smolensky 1993, McCarthy & Prince 1993ab, 1995). OT defines the

grammar of a particular language as a hierarchy of universal

constraints. The constraints are divided into two broad categories:

structural constraints reflecting unmarked forms as defined by UG and

Faithfulness constraints for preservation of input

properties. Interactions between properties of foreign sounds and the

strength of the structural constraints in Japanese as well as some

effects of UG become visible in adaptation processes.

Some of the major results are as follows. The accent of

English adaptations reflects the source while French adaptations

assign their accent by default. This is analysed in terms of a

trochaic footing with nonfinality -a metrical structure that previous

research has shown to play a role in hypocoristics, truncations and so

on. Reflections of UG constraints that appear in the accentuation

include the avoidance of prominence on epenthetic vowels.

In the adaptation of dental plosives before high vowels, a UG

preference for voiceless affricates over voiced ones emerges. The

input sequence /tu/ is adapted with an affricate [ts] while /du/

adaptation avoids the affrication. When the vowel is epenthetic, the

constraint barring a [tu] sequence and faithful rendering of the

plosive are respected by lowering the vowel to [o].

We also study the gemination for input word final consonants

as a result of the UG stem-syllable edge alignment. The type of

gemination observed (vowel or consonant) is constrained by the length

of the preceding vowel and also by the UG preference for voiceless

over voiced geminates.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1