Loan Word Adaptation and Vowel Harmony in Turkish: a Government Phonology Account

Baturay Meral S.

Proceedings of ConSOLE XX, 2012 (the Conference of the Student Organisation of Linguistics in Europe), Leipzig, Germany, 4 - 06 January 2012, pp.1-22

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Leipzig
  • Country: Germany
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-22
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This study aims at investigating the adaptation of the loan words in Turkish and their relation to vowel harmony. I specifically focus on the loan words with final and initial consonant clusters within the framework of Government Phonology proposed in Kaye, Lowenstamm & Vergnaud (1990). Following Charette (1991, 2004), I propose that the loan words with initial (s(ı)por ‘sport’) and final (fik(i)r ‘idea’) clusters are not allowed in Turkish; thus, these words have a lexically empty position between the consonants of the clusters when adapted to Turkish. This implies that there is no consonant insertion or deletion for the adaptation of the loan words. The empty nucleus position is realized if it fails to be p-licensed (phonological licensing). I focus on why and how the empty position is realized. My claim is that the word final empty nucleus position cannot properly govern the empty position of the previous nucleus given that p-licensing fails (Kaye, 1990). Hence, the vowel has to be realized via U and I harmony in the light of licensing constraints given in Charette & Göksel (1994). The realization of the empty nucleus position in the adapted words with initial clusters follows some patterns other than vowel harmony and licensing constraints. The present study suggests that there is no epenthesis phenomenon in loan words with consonant clusters, but the issue is related to the realization of the empty nucleus which depends on the p-licensing phenomenon.