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When trying to understand the phonological system of a language (the sounds used in speech), what are some of the ways to figure out the patterns of an unfamiliar language? The way that borrowed or loanwords (words taken from one language and used in another) are pronounced in a language reveals much about the language’s phonology. The phonological system of Turkish has accommodated for starkly different syllable structures when incorporating modern English words into this contrasting language.

A personal survey of Turkish syllable structure has revealed how native speakers of Turkish cope with the phonological features of borrowed English words through several linguistic processes. This research shows how Turkish adapts English words through the processes of substitution, deletion, and epenthesis to ease the pronunciation of borrowed words. Substitution occurs when one sound is replaced with a more suitable native sound, as in the word “photograph” that is pronounced [foʷdәgɹæf] in English and [fɔtʰɔʔɹʌf] in Turkish. The [g] was replaced with a [ʔ]. Deletion occurs when a sound is eliminated. For example: the word “apartment,” [әpɑɹt̚mɛnt] becomes [ʌpʌɾʔman̚]. The final consonant [t] was eliminated. Epenthesis occurs when a new sound is added, as in the word “studio,” [studioʷ] becomes [sʉtʉdiɔ] when an extra vowel [ʉ] is added. These are a few examples of the way that native Turkish speakers adapt English borrowed words to fit the mold of their own phonological system.


This paper was presented at the 2013 Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium held in High Point, North Carolina.