A Grammar of Saramaccan Creole by McWhorter, John; Good, Jeff

By McWhorter, John; Good, Jeff

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Extra info for A Grammar of Saramaccan Creole

Example text

3. Lexical strata A noteworthy feature of the Saramaccan lexicon which we will not explore in detail here, but which is worth pointing out at least briefly, is the apparent “layering” of different strata of vocabulary. Historically speaking, some of these strata are no doubt the result of Saramaccan’s origins as a contact language and its acquisition of vocabulary from a range of source languages: English, Portuguese, Gbe languages, western Bantu languages, Dutch, Sranan, Amerindian languages, etc.

Therefore, there are not major secondary cues for nasalization. The specific perception of weak nasalization word-finally may also be due to the frequent presence of a degree of devoicing in this position in elicitation contexts, which reduces perceptual cues to vowel distinctions more generally. When appearing preconsonantally, nasalized vowels (again, to the ear of a native English speaker) are somewhat easier to perceive since they typically sound like NC sequences. , and we have found this as well, at least to a limited extent, when words are carefully articulated.

Plain nasals and prenasalized stops and mid vowels: As mentioned in the discussion of mb and nd above, there is a restriction on word-initial nasal-vowel sequences where, for those speakers distinguishing between prenasalized stops and plain nasals word-initially, before the high mid vowels e and o one finds only prenasalized stops, while before the low mid vowels ѓ and э one finds only plain nasals. Thus, for example, for at least some speakers/dialects, one finds word pairs like mbéti ‘animal’ vs.

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