4

More generally, what factors determine which phoneme a non-phonemic foreign sound gets rounded to in a specific language when there are multiple possibilities available? Is the choice always consistent within a language or even per speaker?

For example, I suspect that Hebrew roundings of French vowel sounds aren't always consistent: I've heard /y/ rounded to both /i/ (e.g. /brisel/ Bruxelles and for some speakers /ti/ tu) and /u/ (e.g. /fondu/ fondue and for other speakers /tu/ tu).

8
  • 3
    Your question sounds very subjective. Is there any research that proves that difference between French/German speakers and Italian/Hebrew speakers? – Yellow Sky Jan 2 '15 at 19:45
  • 1
    I don't know, though any research may well suggest an anwser to the question. Certainly both personal experience and popular perception is that French speakers pronounce 'this' as /zis/ (or possibly /dzis/) and Italian speakers say /dis/. See for example wikihow.com/Speak-With-a-Fake-Italian-Accent v wikihow.com/Fake-a-Convincing-French-Accent, or the Sondheim lyrics "I, da so famous Pirelli" (Sweeney Todd) v "We have ze lark, yes?" (Anyone Can Whistle). – Uri Granta Jan 2 '15 at 20:24
  • 1
    French θ>s and ð>z is stated as fact in Language: Its Structure and Use By Edward Finegan (p89). As a native Hebrew speaker I'm pretty sure that θ>t and ð>d is universal or close to universal in Israel, as witnessed for example by the Internet slang 10x for thanks. – Uri Granta Jan 2 '15 at 20:34
  • Found some relevant research: benjamins.com/#catalog/journals/li.25.1.07pic/details, gmu.edu/org/lingclub/WP/texts/3_Roman.pdf. These confirm that the substitution is systematic (but note for example that European and Canadian French use different substitutions). In fact, searching for "differential substitution" mostly gives results discussing θ and ð. – Uri Granta Jan 2 '15 at 20:44
  • Weirdly enough, I was thinking of posting this exact same question today. As another native Hebrew speaker I can confirm that the substitution of alveolar stops for interdental fricatives is consistent in Hebrew, as far as I've observed. – TKR Jan 2 '15 at 23:28
2

Here is a paper that has been written on this topic:

http://www.thomastsoi.com/wp-content/downloads/The%20Effects%20of%20Occurrence%20Frequency%20of%20Phonemes%20on%20SLA.pdf

The author's hypothesis is:

A sound of higher occurrence frequency in L1 is more likely to be selected as a replacement for a foreign sound in L2. The process of replacement, however, cannot possibly rely only on the occurrence frequency. Otherwise, the most frequent sound would have been selected as a replacement for every foreign sound. Therefore, there should be a set of rules determining how similar two sounds are. These rules and the effects of occurrence frequency are juxtaposed to determine the result of replacement.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.