Multiple scansions in loanword phonology: evidence from Cantonese*

Daniel Silvermana1

a1 University of California, Los Angeles

In loanword phonology we seek to uncover the processes by which speakers possessing one phonological system perceive, apply native representational constraints on, and ultimately produce forms which have been generated by a different phonological system. We are interested in how speakers instantiate segmental and prosodic structure on an input which may or may not abide by native rules. Crucial to this assumed strategy is the idea that loanwords do not come equipped with their own phonological representation. For any phonetic string, it is only native speakers for whom a fully articulated phonological structure is present; as we will see, the input to loanword phonology is merely a superficial non-linguistic acoustic signal. Thus as host-language speakers perceive foreign forms in accordance with their indigenous phonological system, they instantiate native phonological representations on the acoustic signal, fitting the superficial input into the native phonological system as closely as possible.


* I would like to thank Bruce Hayes, Junko Itô, Peter Ladefoged and Moira Yip for their extremely insightful comments and observations on earlier versions of this paper. I would additionally like to thank two anonymous Phonology reviewers. I would especially like to thank Donca Steriade, whose inexhaustible knowledge, enthusiasm and patience serve as an inspiration to me in my study of phonology.

Finally, I am grateful to David Chu, Eric Kwok and Jack Ling, who were my main linguistic consultants.