New PDF release: A Grammar of Saramaccan Creole

By McWhorter, John; Good, Jeff

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Extra resources for A Grammar of Saramaccan Creole

Example text

Dѓѓ̗ ‘dry’ and mѓ̗ti ‘meter’ vs. mѓtѓ̗ ‘meddle’; and fiká ‘remain’ vs. fuká ‘distress’ and bási ‘boss’ vs. ’ The vowel e For our main consultants, the Saramaccan vowel e would appear to be broadly transcribable as IPA [e], that is, as a higher mid front vowel. Such a transcription is in agreement with Rountree’s (1972b) transcription of this vowel in a description of the Upper River dialect of the language. ) Voorhoeve’s (1959: 438) description of the Lower River dialect transcribed this vowel as [ܼ], suggesting a higher phonetic realization than what is implied by [e], and the vowel chart he gives further implies that e is not only lower than i but also further back in articulation than either i or ѓ.

The presence of these pairs is related to a sound change, with fairly complex conditioning factors (see Smith [1987b: 210–224] for relevant discussion), deleting word-medial l’s (which, in some cases, go back historically to other alveolar consonants like d or r). This sound change partly explains, for example, the form of the words béi ‘bury’ (from English bury, passing through a stage with a form like béri) and fúu ‘full’ (from English full, passing through a stage with a form like fúlu). ) Instances of words where l alternates with nothing intervocalically simply represent cases where, for some reason, the sound change is not consistently applied synchronically (perhaps due to dialect borrowing or influence from other Surinamese creoles which did not undergo the sound change but show otherwise similar forms in some cases).

On the other hand, one finds an epenthetic i in words like póbíki ‘doll’ from Sranan popki ‘doll,’ báíki ‘beam’ from Sranan barki ‘beam,’ and féífi ‘paint’ from Sranan ferfi ‘paint’ – in the case of the last two words the vowels no longer appear as epenthetic because of the loss of intervocalic l (see the section on that consonant above), either because of a historical sound change affecting these words directly or as the result of an established Sranan transfer rule. In addition to the quality of adjacent vowels, the quality of the consonants being broken up by the epenthetic vowel can also be relevant.

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

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