This paper investigates how the coronal voiceless fricatives /s/ and /ʃ/ in English are adapted in Mandarin Chinese. The few-to-many mappings between /s/ and /ʃ/ in English and /s, ʂ, ɕ/ in Mandarin Chinese will be studied based on the corpus of 493 English loanwords taken from Oxford Advanced Learner’s English – Chinese Dictionary (7th edition, 2009), Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (Modern Chinese Dictionary 6th edition, 2009) and Google searches (2013). The results of a corpus study demonstrate three key findings. First, the alveolar fricative in English is mapped to the corresponding loan sound in Mandarin Chinese, depending on the following vowel to conform to native phonotactics. Second, the adaptation of the palato-alveolar fricative is mainly determined by its internal acoustic cues. Third, it is noted that the stress of the s-initial syllable exerts influence on how /s/ in a cluster (/s/ followed by another consonant) is mapped to a loan sound in Mandarin Chinese. These findings suggest that loan adaptation makes a crucial reference to featural co-occurrence constraints, in that a consonant of interest can be mapped to different loan sounds due to native phonotactics. Notably, they also indicate that suprasegmental information comes into play when vocalic information is not available next to a consonant of interest. The roles of external and suprasegmental cues in the adaptation of coronal fricatives of English into Mandarin Chinese argue for the perceptual view (Silverman 1992) as opposed to the phonological view (Lacharité and Paradis 2005) on loanword adaptation.
2. Phonotactics in MC and English
3. Corpus experiment
4. Discussion and conclusion