Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Baertsch, Karen


There has been an increase in interest among researchers in the study of loanword phonology, but only limited studies have been carried out on the phonology of English loanwords in Arabic. Thus, there is a need for more linguistic studies to shed light on the borrowing of English loanwords into Arabic. A significant issue that has been the subject of an ongoing debate is whether adaptation processes are part of perception or production. This study investigated the phonology of English loanwords in Arabic. In the process, it discussed the phonetic and phonemic approaches that have been controversial in loanword adaptation. The study questioned whether the absence of phonemes in the Arabic phonemic inventory equivalent to certain English target phonemes affected EFL and ESL learners' pronunciation of English loanwords differently. It also examined whether they substituted phonemes, and if so, whether the two groups of speakers used the same phonemes for substitution or used different ones. A list of 29 loanwords was compiled and used to examine the productions of 15 EFL learners from Salman University and 15 ESL learners from the Center for English as a Second Language in Southern Illinois University. Examining the effects of the Arabic Ll on the production of loanwords via transfer, approximation, the Markedness Differential Hypothesis, and Optimality Theory showed that these English loanwords had undergone certain phonological modifications. Both EFL and ESL learners reflected native Arabic phonological processes, while only ESL learners reflected universal patterns, such as VOT approximation, that followed neither the phonological system of Arabic nor that of English. Consequently, the findings of the study contribute to a better understanding of how both phonology and phonetics are related to English loanwords in Arabic. Further research is suggested to investigate different aspects of loanword phonology, such as the effects of orthography.




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