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Title:Loanword Adaptation in Mandarin Chinese: Perceptual, Phonological and Sociolinguistic Factors
Authors:Ruiqin Miao
Abstract:This dissertation is a study of Mandarin Chinese loanword phonology, with focus on phoneme substitution patterns for consonants and processes used in resolving foreign syllable structures which are illicit in Mandarin. The data serving as the basis for analysis are loans borrowed into modern Mandarin from three Indo-European languages, namely English, German and Italian. I investigate the perceptual and phonological factors that regulate the variability of loanword adaptation in Mandarin. In addition, I discuss the influence of sociolinguistic factors on the phonological processes observed in the data.

Based on the adaptation patterns in Mandarin, I argue that the recipient language speakers' perceptual knowledge plays a crucial role in loanword phonology and that loanword processes function to create an adapted form that is perceived as sufficiently similar to the source word. I propose a constraint ranking analysis within the Optimality Theoretic framework (Prince & Smolensky 1993, McCarthy & Prince 1993, McCarthy & Prince 1995). Following Steriade's (2002) P-map hypothesis, I conjecture that rankings of various correspondence constraints are projected by the perceptual similarity between the source form and the adapted form. Furthermore, this analysis is tested by data from online loan perception and adaptation experiments, the results of which corroborate the hypothesis that perceptual similarity plays an important role in loanword adaptation.

This research supports cross-linguistic findings about the preference for faithfulness of manner over faithfulness of other features such as voicing and place (e.g. Broselow 1999, Steriade 2002) and the preference for segment preservation over deletion in loan adaptation (e.g. Paradis & LaCharité 1997, Uffmann 2001, 2004). It enriches our understanding of the role of perceptual similarity and perceptual salience in phonology and their relationship to constraint ranking.
Article:Version 1