The Influence of Attitude on the Treatment of Interdentals in Loanwords: Ill-performed Importations

Carole Paradis, Darlene LaCharité


This article treats cross-linguistic variation in the treatment of /θ, ð/ in loanwords. We maintain that the phonological adaptation of /θ, ð/, cross-linguistically, is to /t, d/, that substitution by /f, v/, which occurs in a few languages, is based on faulty perception of the interdental fricatives, and that adaptation to /s, z/, which notably occurs in Japanese, European French and German, represents a flawed production-based attempt to import interdentals. We suggest that such flawed importation occurs when foreign sounds are difficult to produce but the source language holds sufficient prestige that it is deemed important to do so. This proposal is supported by data from, e.g., English, Greek and Classical Arabic. The treatment of interdentals parallels that of the difficult French phoneme // in loanwords in Fula, which also yields a flawed production-based importation, lending further support to our analysis of /θ, ð/ to /s, z/ as flawed importations.


loanword adaptation; interdentals; importations; flawed production-based importations

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Copyright (c) 2012 Carole Paradis, Darlene LaCharité