Definitions for unpacking

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  1. unpacking(Noun)

    The separation of the features of a segment (such as a nasal vowel or palatal consonant) into distinct segments; for example, the separation of a nasal vowel such as /u0251u0303/ into a vowel /u0251/ and a nasal consonant /n/ (i.e., into /u0251n/) which often occurs when a language which does not use nasal vowels borrows from a language which does use them.

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  1. Unpacking

    In historical linguistics and language contact, unpacking is the separation of the features of a segment into distinct segments. Perhaps the most common example of unpacking is the separation of nasal vowels into vowel plus nasal consonant when borrowed into languages which don't have nasal vowels. This can be seen in English borrowings of French and Portuguese words, such as monsoon from Portuguese monção, but occurs widely, as in Lingala from French "balance". Here the nasality of the vowel is separated out as a nasal consonant. If this didn't happen the nasality would be lost. Unpacking occurs not just in borrowings, but within a language over time. Sanskrit syllabic ऋ has become in Hindi, which has no syllabic consonants; the rhoticity is maintained by the, while the syllabic feature is separated out as a vowel.


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