Perception of Illegal Contrasts: Japanese Adaptations of Korean Coda Obstruents

James Whang


In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt:

A series of studies by Dupoux and colleagues (Dupoux et al. (1999), Peperkamp & Dupoux (2003), Vendelin & Peperkamp (2004), Peperkamp (2005)) have proposed that loanword adaptation, which refers to the transformation words go through when they are borrowed from a source language (L2) to a borrowing language (L1), happens entirely during perception. They claim that when an L1 speaker is given an acoustic signal that contains segments that are illegal in his native language, his native phonotactics distort how this signal is perceived, automatically mapping it to the closest well-formed sound, and that this process, called perceptual assimilation, often makes it extremely difficult to perceive nonnative sounds accurately. This paper provides evidence partially contrary to their claims, from adaptations of Korean final coda obstruents into Japanese, showing that Japanese speakers are able to perceive some phonotactically illegal contrasts.

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