Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Baertsch, Karen

Abstract

The present study sought to contribute to the research on Chinese orthography and borrowing by testing native Chinese readers' understanding of different semantically and phonetically oriented borrowing paradigms in order to investigate the constraints the writing system has placed on the semantics and phonology of the language. Building on other pertinent qualitative studies which have established that Chinese orthography works as a "morphosyllabic" syllabary, this study identified both phonetic and semantic elements present in the writing system. A quantitative study was carried out using seven discrete orthographic borrowing strategies which tested both real and invented loanwords on native Chinese readers. In addition, the study asked native Chinese readers to borrow English words into Chinese orthography through any orthographic means. Analysis of this study revealed that a lack of congruity is present in Chinese borrowing, which in turn hampers understanding. Furthermore, many borrowing strategies are dependent on certain constraints. These constraints are examined in detail via a proposed borrowing continuum. Possible solutions and the direction the writing system may take are further discussed.

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