Underapplication in Akan Loanword Adaptation

Kwasi Adomako


This paper examines the phenomenon of underapplication of palatalization rule observed in loanword adaptation in Akan, a Niger-Congo (Kwa) language. The phenomenon has been widely studied almost exclusively in the domain of reduplication where palatalization fails in some reduplicants in the context of back consonant + front vowel. Similar failure is observed when adapting some English words into Akan. For instance, a source word ‘crack’ is adapted as krakɪ but not *kraʨɪ as would be expected in the native grammar. The sequence of k + ɪ would be expected to result in palatalization of the k into . This is accounted for within the Optimality Theory that while in reduplication palatalization fails due to a high-ranking of OCP(+cor) constraint, in loans adaptation it results from the adapters’ bid to attain phonetic match between source words and adapted forms, hence a relatively high ranking of IDENT-IO(cor) constraint over well-formedness constraints.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v5i5.4277

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