Loanwords from a tone language in a register language
How do tones get adapted into languages with registers? This study examined loanword adaptation in which a language with registers borrows words from a language with lexical tones. In particular, this study presents an acoustic analysis of Thai loanwords in Mon, a language with two registers-one with tense voice and high f0 and the other with lax voice and low f0 accompanied by breathy voice. To investigate phonetic realizations, eight Mon speakers native to Thailand were recorded uttering 135 Thai loanwords in a carrier sentence. Results show that the tones in Thai loanwords get adapted as four level tones in Mon. In particular, loanwords with high tone have the highest f0, loanwords with mid tone have the second highest f0, loanwords with low tone and rising tone have the third highest f0, and loanwords with falling tone have the lowest f0. It is puzzling why Thai falling tone-not low tone-gets adapted as the lowest f0 in Mon. Results suggest that Mon spoken in Thailand may be developing lexical tones due to language contact.