Nonce-loan judgments and impossible-nativization effects in Japanese

Jennifer L. Smith, Yuka Tashiro


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.


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

Full Text:



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

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Donate to the Open-Access Fund of the LSA

Linguistic Society of America

Advancing the Scientific Study of Language since 1924

ISSN (online): 2473-8689

This publication is made available for free to readers and with no charge to authors thanks in part to your continuing LSA membership and your donations to the open access fund.