[Lingtyp] To include xenophones or not

Nick Thieberger thien at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Dec 6 10:18:56 UTC 2021

Hi All,

Isn't a way of dealing with this to provide frequency counts, for example
in a list of phonemes or phonotactic patterns, how often do they occur in a
given corpus. That would indicate which are the rara.


On Mon, 6 Dec 2021 at 21:06, Volker Gast <volker.gast at uni-jena.de> 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>
> <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk>
> *To:*LINGTYP<lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> <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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