Hope McManus: Loanword Adaptation

Hope McManus’ Honours Thesis is available from the University of Sydney eScholarship site.

Loanword Adaptation: A study of some Australian Aboriginal Languages


This thesis is a case study of some aspects of the adaptation of English words in several Australian Aboriginal languages, including Martu Wangka, Gamilaraay and Warlpiri. I frame my analysis within Smith’s (to appear) source-similarity model of loanword adaptation. This model exploits loanword-specific faithfulness constraints that impose maximal similarity between the perceived source form and its corresponding loan. Using this model, I show that the conflict of the relevant prosodic markedness constraints and loanword-specific faithfulness constraints drives adaptation. Vowel epenthesis, the most frequent adaptation strategy, allows the recoverability of a maximal amount of information about the source form and ensures that the loan conforms to the constraints of language-internal phonological grammar. Less frequent strategies including deletion and substitution occur in a restricted environment. The essence of the present analysis is minimal violation, a principle that governs loanword adaptation as well as other areas of phonology.