, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 39-63
Date: 22 Aug 2012

L1 phonotactic restrictions and perceptual adaptation: English affricates in Contemporary Korean

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The current paper examines the adaptation of English postalveolar affricates /ʧ ʤ/ in Contemporary Korean (1890–present). The English affricates are transcribed orthographically as affricates of Korean, often with a palatal glide despite the fact that a post-affricate palatal glide is not perceptibly realized in the surface pronunciation in Korean. The paper examines the distribution of the palatal glide in English affricate transcription in three time periods of Contemporary Korean: Enlightenment Period Korean (1890–1910), the 1930s, and Present Day Korean (PDK). The results show that despite the normative conventions against it, post-affricate palatal glide transcription persists throughout Contemporary Korean. Also, the fact that the palatal glide distribution in affricate adaptation interacts with the phonotactic restriction against a palatal glide before front vowels indicates that the palatal glide transcription bears phonological reality. It is proposed that this is a case where the adapters make a distinction that is not sanctioned by the surface contrast of the native language, but is allowed by the orthography, in order to represent the subtle phonetic difference between the native and foreign sounds. It is suggested that a model of loanword adaptation where the adaptation is equated with L1-based perception mediated solely by surface sequential phonotactic restrictions of the L1 may be too strict. At the same time, the downward trajectory of transcription in PDK suggests that such covert perceptual contrast is not likely to be maintained unless it develops into actual surface contrast.