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Oh, Mira and Robert Daland. 2018. The influence of orthography in the adaptation of English schwa. Studies in Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology 24.2. 173-192. 


This study aims to test the Perceptual Uncertainty Hypothesis proposed by Daland et al. (2015). According to this hypothesis, variability in loanword adaptation reflects perceptual uncertainty; thus, one would expect to see speakers systematically refer to orthography only when phonetic similarity fails to identify a unique segment. We present an online experiment in which Korean and Japanese listeners heard two-syllable English nonce words like mépple. They were asked to identify the closest vowel in their own language for the English schwa in the second syllable, which is unstressed. The results of the study provide strong support for the Perceptual Uncertainty Hypothesis since they show orthographic effects in the adaptation of unstressed vowels of English words loaned into Korean and Japanese. They demonstrate that the way that a word is spelled had some influence on which vowel the participants chose. The results also showed a very different pattern between Korean and Japanese listeners. We can explain these results in terms of how the phonetic categories of English align with those of Korean versus Japanese. (Chonnam National University, Professor and UCLA, Assistant Professor)


Keywords: The Perceptual Uncertainty Hypothesis, orthography, loanword phonology, speech perception, Korean, Japanese, English 

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