Syllabic constraints in ekegusii borrowing: an optimality perspective
Keywords:coda, constraints, optimality, phonotactics, syllable
A language’s syllabic structure is key in determining linguistic borrowing. Research on loanword phonology indicates that when languages borrow segments, these borrowed segments undergo systematic adaptations which involve phonological structures at various levels and one of these is the syllabic level. Because languages have varied syllabic structures which will range from very simple to complex, a language’s syllabic structure will trigger repair strategies that ensure that its language phonotactics are not violated. However, how the syllable in Ekegusii constrains borrowing from English has not been adequately explained. This article that was based on Optimality Theory’s constraint approach examined how Ekegusii’s syllable structure constrains borrowing from the English language. The data used in this article was extracted from Mose’s doctoral study. The findings revealed that the Ekegusii syllable structure imposed various constraints spread across the three patterns which are permissible in the language. The specific constraints included: prohibition of cluster consonants, diphthongs or triphthongs, no coda consonants, and complex onsets, as well as syllables, must have onsets that were lowly ranked in the language. The article concluded that syllabic constraints determined that whatever was mapped to Ekegusii adhered to its syllable structure.
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