To Epenthesize or Not? Adaptations of English Coda [m] in Standard Mandarin Loanwords

Ho-Hsin Huang, Yen-Hwei Lin


This study investigates how English coda [m] is adapted into Standard Mandarin (SM) loanwords both in the existing corpora and in perceptual similarity adaptation data from monolingual SM and bilingual SM-English speakers. The nasal [m] in coda position is prohibited in SM. Deletion, nasal place change and vowel epenthesis are the possible repair strategies. The generalizations identified in the corpora indicate that deletion never occurs (cf. Preservation Principle from Paradis 1996, Paradis & Lacharité 1997). Vowel epenthesis appears in SM when English coda [m] is in word-medial and word final positions. Nasal place change appears when English coda [m] is followed by a labial obstruent. Variable adaptations happen when English coda [m] is followed by an obstruent. The experimental results show that (i) the bilingual experimental strategies for nonce word adaptations are similar to the patterns observed in the SM loanwords corpora and (ii) monolinguals' adaptation patterns are more variable due to greater dependence on perceptual cues. The fact that monolinguals and bilinguals differ in the extent to which they employ perceptual cues and phonological features/constraints for loanword adaptations challenges a pure perception-based account of loanword adaptation.


Vowel epenthesis; Loanword adaptations; Loanword phonology; Perception; Perceptual similarity

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