How do languages adapt words from each other?

Due to its history of language contact with French, modern Vietnamese contains numerous loanwords of French origin, many of which refer to a variety of culturally transmitted items (such as clothing, food, technology, tradeable objects more generally). The present study deals with the phonological aspects of such loans, considering tone, syllable structure and segmental structure. The analysis is based on a corpus of roughly 500 Vietnamese nouns of French origin that, according to native speakers’ judgments, are still in use. As for tonal structure, generalizations about tone assignment made in previous research are modified. The systematic analysis of repair strategies applying to French consonant clusters in onsets and codas shows that Vietnamese generally prefers deletion over epenthesis, unlike many other languages, with two additional repair processes being attested in specific contexts, as well.

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