The adaptation of english words in Tonga.

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Chigali, Kapili
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The University of Zambia
This study is an investigation into ‘The Adaptation of English Words in Tonga’. The study is carried out from within the optimality theoretical framework, a linguistics model developed as a direct response to a “conceptual crisis at the centre of phonological thought” concerning the role of output constraints. The theory provides that the phonological system of the recipient language is encoded as a system of constraints, and that these constraints account for how the donor word is adapted when adopted. As it has often been argued, when words are adopted into a new language, they are not accepted in their original form or shape, but rather restructured to conform to the articulatory and grammatical features of the receiving language. This study thus focuses on among other things the processes the Tonga language uses to adapt words from the English language that are phonologically different. The study collected a corpus of three hundred and fifty five words from both secondary and primary sources. Out of these, one hundred and thirteen were used for analysis – sixty three being in line with objective one and fifty with objective three. In relation to the behaviour of vowel sounds in the adaptation of English words in Tonga, the study has revealed that vowel length in Tonga, the recipient language, is not always determined by the phonetic length of the corresponding vowel in English- the source language. In other words, there is lack of predictability on when there is likely to be compliance to vowel lax-tense dichotomy on account of any lexical or phonological feature of the source word. There behaviour thus can be accounted for in three different ways: (i) a long vowel in the English word is not always retained as a long vowel when the word has been nativised or adapted in Tonga; (ii) some English words with long vowels will have them maintained at exactly the same level in Tonga. (iii) some of the [– tense] words in English turn out to be [+ tense] in Tonga. In relation with objective three, fifty words were analysed and the study has established that three phonological processes of insertion, deletion and feature change are employed by the Tonga language as adaptation strategies for the phonologically different words from English. The study has further revealed that insertion is the most dominant or productive process in the adaptation of English words in Tonga as compared to deletion and feature change. The main reason for this is that insertion, particularly the one involving vowels, is a strategy used by many languages to attain open syllables and also to break illicit consonant clusters that are not allowed in most Bantu languages. Keywords: Adaptation, Constraints, Tonga, Insertion, Deletion, Feature Change, Vowel Sound.
English language--Phonology. , Tonga language (Zambezi)--Grammar.