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"High-interest loans": The phonology of English loanword adaptation in Burmese

Chang, C. B. (2003) "High-interest loans": The phonology of English loanword adaptation in Burmese. Masters dissertation. Harvard University.

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Abstract

Lexical borrowing is a common process across languages. Even so, words borrowed into a language are rarely borrowed perfectly, but instead undergo modification vis-à-vis their realization in the source language from which they were borrowed. This process of modification may result from the influence of the phonology native to the borrowing language, from general principles of Universal Grammar (UG), or from a combination of the two. In recent years, loanword adaptation has been modeled in various ways (e.g., Silverman 1992, Paradis 1996, Kenstowicz 2001, Steriade 2002) that say different things about the stages of adaptation and the relative importance of factors such as the borrower’s proficiency in the source language and the veridicality of cross-language speech perception. The present study concerns the adaptation of loanwords borrowed from English into Burmese, a language that is phonologically very different from English. English loanwords undergo systematic modifications in Burmese, some reflecting aspects of native Burmese phonology and others having no correlate in Burmese phonology. This case of loanword adaptation has implications for models of loanword phonology, suggesting that Burmese loanword adaptation occurs in a two-stage process, beginning with an initial English-to-Burmese mapping that occurs on a phoneme-to-phone basis. Segmental and syllabic structure is accounted for in this way, but tone assignment appears to be governed by a combination of Burmese tone laws and principles of UG that remains to be characterized. This issue of tone assignment is left as a question for future research.

Item Type: Theses (Masters)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Supervisors Name: B. Vaux
Copyright Statement: Copyright 2003 Charles B. Chang. All rights reserved.
Depositing User: Dr. Charles Chang
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2014 12:00
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/19117

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