Nonce-loan judgments and impossible-nativization effects in Japanese

Jennifer L. Smith, Yuka Tashiro

Abstract


The core-periphery structure of the Japanese lexicon is well documented (e.g., Ito & Mester 1995ab, 1999), but there is some controversy as to whether it is synchronically productive. Productive core-periphery structure should show synchronic evidence for a HIERARCHY OF FOREIGNNESS (Kiparsky 1973) among non-native phonological structures, and should give rise to IMPOSSIBLE-NATIVIZATION EFFECTS (Ito & Mester 1999, 2001)--speakers should reject a nonce loanword that nativizes a 'less-foreign' structure while preserving a 'more-foreign' one. We carried out an experiment to collect nonce-loan nativization judgments from speakers of Japanese in order to test these claims. We found, first, that participants have a hierarchy of foreignness that is approximately like the predicted one, but differs in the relative markedness of singleton [p] and sequences of nasal+voiceless obstruent; we also found some interspeaker variation in the hierarchy. Second, while most participants showed nativization preferences that look like impossible- nativization effects, not all participants had a consistent hierarchy of preferences across all constraint pairs. These results have implications both for the phonological analysis of existing stratum-specific alternations in Japanese and for theoretical approaches to loanword phonology.

Keywords


loanword phonology; lexical strata; core-periphery structure; impossible-nativization effects; experimental phonology; Japanese phonology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v4i1.4531

Copyright (c) 2019 Jennifer L. Smith, Yuka Tashiro

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