[Lingtyp] To include xenophones or not

Volker Gast volker.gast at uni-jena.de
Mon Dec 6 10:12:09 UTC 2021

Sorry, I meant "Occurrences of /ʒ/ in medial position could be explained 
via some phonological rule ..."

I'd be interested in any counter examples to my claim that medial /ʒ/ is 
only found before unstressed syllables. Note that I refer to standard 
British English here. I know that there are varieties of English where 
you say something like [prəʒu:m].


On 12/6/21 10:04, Volker Gast wrote:
> As for /ʒ/ in English, I think you have to distinguish between (i) its 
> use in relatively recent loans, e.g. 'rouge', and 'garage' (UK 
> pronunciation), where I would assume that it still has a foreign ring, 
> and (ii) its (media)l use in older loans like 'measure' and 
> 'pleasure', where it is probably felt to be native. The latter sound 
> only occurs before unstressed syllables, as far as I know, at least in 
> standard British English. In front of stressed syllables /zj/ has been 
> preserved, e.g. 'presume'. In other words, the opposition between /ʒ/ 
> and /zj/ is not distinctive. Note also that in initial position, /ʒ/ 
> is regularly turned into an affricate in loan words, e.g. 'journey', 
> which points to a non-native status. It has been preserved in others, 
> e.g. 'gigue', but here again I would assume that most speakers of 
> English would clearly identify this word as a French loan.
> So I think it would not be entirely unreasonable to say that /ʒ/ is 
> not a "fully" native sound of English. Occurrences of /zj/ in medial 
> position could be explained via some phonological rule, with an 
> underlying /zj/-sequence. I am of course aware that most phonemes in 
> most languages differ in terms of their degrees of "distributional 
> generality", and /ʒ/ nicely fills a gap in the grid of English 
> fricatives. But that's probably an argument that we shouldn't use.
> Best,
> Volker
> On 12/6/21 08:34, fcosw5 wrote:
>> If it's feasible, I think I would recommend a fairly fine-grained 
>> inventory, in which all the phonemes actually used in the relevant 
>> language are included, but special note taken of those phonemes that 
>> occur *only* in loan-words.  And, going beyond that, maybe make 
>> further note of loan-words that are *generally recognized* within the 
>> community as loan-words (e.g., I think most native-English-speakers 
>> would not recognize 'measure' as a loan-word), and if the 
>> introduction of such a xenophone has had a noticeable effect on the 
>> language's phonological inventory.
>> Best,
>> Steven
>> -----Original message-----
>> *From:*JOO, Ian [Student]<ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk>
>> *To:*LINGTYP<lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>> *Date: * Thu, 02 Dec 2021 15:49:48
>> *Subject:* [Lingtyp] To include xenophones or not
>> Dear typologists,
>> I would like to seek your advice on a database I am making.
>> For my doctoral project, I am compiling a phonological database of 
>> 700+ Eurasian languages.
>> The database includes basic information such as the list of 
>> word-finally permitted phonemes, maximal number of onsets in a 
>> syllable, etc.
>> For this database, I would like your opinion on whether to include 
>> xenophonic (loanword-phonological) information or not.
>> For example, should the database include phonemes that are only 
>> present in loanwords (such as /x/ in English)?
>> If the language does not allow codas in native word/ but allow them 
>> in loanwords, should that information be allowed as well?
>> If you were using the database, would you find such information helpful?
>> Pros of adding the xenophonic information:
>> The database would be more complete. Some xenophonic features can be 
>> very old (such as onset clusters in Tagalog, word-initial /r/ in 
>> Japanese, etc.), so in a sense they are "nativized" (although they 
>> may be still marked). If I mark the native phonology and the loanword 
>> phonology distinctly in my database (e. g. Including /ts/ in French 
>> phonology but specifying that it only appears in loanwords), then the 
>> user can use the database with or without xenophonic information.
>> Cons:
>> The problem of including xenophonic information is that, when 
>> considering loanwords, it is difficult to judge what is part of a 
>> language's phonology or not.
>> For example /f/ occurs in very recent Korean loanwords such as /f/ail 
>> 'file' or /f/eyispwuk 'Facebook' and it's difficult to say if this is 
>> really a part of Korean phonology.
>> Many minority language speakers are also fluent in their national 
>> language (such as Russian or Spanish) and they may pronounce 
>> loanwords from the national language in their 'original' 
>> pronunciation (such as Tuvan speakers pronouncing Russian loanwords 
>> in Russian pronunciation) and it's difficult to say if this means 
>> Russian phonology has fully integrated into Tuvan phonology.
>> So where to divide the line between what is purely foreign and what 
>> has been nativized?
>> On the other hand, distinguishing phonological features that are only 
>> present in loanwords from those that are also present in native words 
>> is quite straightforward and less controversial (although there is 
>> also the problem that we do not always know if a word is a loanword 
>> or not).
>> Lastly, since I've already finished a good part of the database 
>> (about 15%), if I want to also include xenophonic information then I 
>> would have to go through the whole database again, so there's this 
>> practical issue.
>> So I would appreciate your advice on whether including xenophonic 
>> information would be substantially beneficial to you or not, if you 
>> were using the database.
>> From Hong Kong,
>> Ian
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