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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Degemination in Japanese Loanwords from Italian

  • Author(s): Morimoto, Maho
  • Advisor(s): Itô, Junko
  • Mester, Armin
  • et al.

In Japanese native phonology, geminate consonants are contrastive (as in [kata] ‘shoulder’ vs. [katta] ‘win-PAST’), but geminates in loanwords can have differing sources and motivations (see Kubozono, Itô, Mester 2009, Kawagoe 2015, and references cited therein): we see gemination of singletons in loanwords from English, in which consonant length is not distinctive ([kæt] E ng ‘cat’ > [kjatto] Jp ), whereas we see geminate-preservation in loanwords from Italian ([espresso] It ‘espresso’ > [esupuresso] Jp), in which the length of most consonants is contrastive. In loanwords from Italian, however, not all geminates are preserved. This research addresses the cases of degemination, and captures the pattern as stress-based neutralization (Beckman 1998) of consonant length within the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993). Through a database built from dictionaries and a nonce-adaptation survey conducted online, it confirms the preference towards geminates in penultimate position and the ban against geminates in other positions, especially for liquid geminates.

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