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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at processes operating in loanword adaptation. Starting out with a typology of adaptations, looking at what we know empirically about how loanwords are adapted to the phonological system of the borrowing language, this chapter then examines the central controversy surrounding loanword adaptation, whether adaptations are based on phonological equivalence or on phonetic/perceptual similarity. Data from a range of languages show that no explanation alone is sufficient. I therefore present a novel proposal, which first of all redefines the idea of phonological adaptations as equivalences based on contrast and opposition, and which secondly adds a sociolinguistic perspective to the psycholinguistic perspective that is standardly assumed. Rather than seeing individual speakers as the main locus of adaptation, I argue that loanwords are adapted by the speech community, with the consequence that there will be variation and effects of conventionalization, plus the possibility of different outcomes depending on the contact situation, with some situations inviting perceptual adaptations more than others.

Keywords: loanwords, borrowing, adaptation, perception, L2, contrast

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