English loanwords in Thai and optimality theory

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Rung-ruang, Apichai
Trechsel, Frank R.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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This study focuses on English loanwords in Thai, particularly the treatment of consonants in different environments, namely onset/coda simplification, laryngeal features, medial consonants, and liquid alternation, within the framework of Optimality Theory (OT: Prince and Smolensky 1993/2004). The major objectives are: (1) to examine the way English loanwords are adapted to a new environment, (2) to investigate how conflict between faithfulness and markedness constraints is resolved and in what ways through OT grammars, and (3) finally to be a contribution to the literature of loan phonology in OT since there has not been much literature on English loanwords in Thai within the recent theoretical framework of Optimality TheoryThe data are drawn from an English-Thai dictionary (Sethaputa 1995), an on-line English-Thai dictionary, an English loanword dictionary (Komutthamwiboon 2003), and earlier studies of English loans in Thai by Udomwong (1981), Nacaskul (1989), Raksaphet (2000), and Kenstowicz and Atiwong (2004).The study has found that Thais replace unlicensed consonants with either auditory similar segments or shared natural class segments, as in /v/ in the English and [w] in word borrowing due to auditory similarity, /g/ in the English source replaced by [k] because of shared place of articulation. Vowel insertion is found if the English source begins with /sC/ as in /skaen/ scan -> [stkc cn]. Since Thai allows consonant clusters, a second segment of the clusters is always retained if it fits the Thai phonotactics, as in /gruup/ group' -4 [kruip]. In coda, consonant clusters must be simplified. Consonant clusters in the English source are divided into five main subgroups. Sometimes Thais retain a segment adjacent to a vowel and delete the edge, as in /lcnzi lens -4 [len].However, a postvocalic lateral [1] followed by a segment are replaced by either a nasal [n] or a glide [w]. In terms of repair strategies, the lowest ranked faithfulness constraints indicate what motivates Thais to have consonant adaptation. MAX-I0, DEP-I0, IDENT-I0 (place) reveal that segmental deletion, insertion, and replacement on the place of articulation are employed to deal with marked structures, respectively. The two lines of approaches (Positional Faithfulness, Positional Markedness) have been examined with respect to segments bearing aspiration or voicing. The findings have shown that both approaches can be employed to achieve the same result. In medial consonants, ambisyllabic consonants in the English source undergo syllable adaptation and behave like geminates in word borrowings in Thai. Most cases show that ambisyllabic/geminate consonants in loanwords are unaspirated. A few cases are aspirated.The study has revealed that there is still more room for improvement in 0T. The standard OT allowing only a single output in the surface form is challenged. Some English loanwords have multiple outputs. For instance, /aesfoolt/ asphalt' can be pronounced either [26tf6n] or [26tf6w]. Another example is the word /k h riim / `cream' can be pronounced as [k h riim], [khliim], and [khiim]. To account for these phenomena requires a sociolinguistic explanation.