Review: Stress, tone, and intonation in Creoles and contact languages (Parth Bhatt and Ingo Plag, eds.)
There has been a fair amount of research on the prosodic systems of contact languages in recent years (see, e.g., Devonish, 2002; Good, 2004; Gooden, 2003; and Remijsen & van Heuven, 2005, among others). And, at least among the Atlantic creoles, such investigation has yielded interesting results. For example, both Saramaccan and Papiamentu have been claimed to have typologically unusual, and fairly complex, word-level prosody (Good, 2004; Remijsen & van Heuven, 2005). To some extent, such results should not be particularly surprising. The accentual word-level prosody of European superstrate languages was often quite distinct from that of creole substrates, in particular African tone languages, creating a typological clash potentially open to a range of resolutions (see Hyman (2006) for a recent overview of word-prosodic typology). Furthermore, exposure to prosodic features of the superstrate languages by substrate speakers would have been particularly extensive. Every utterance from a superstrate native speaker would have evinced important aspects of a language’s prosodic system. One would, therefore, expect some degree of transfer of the superstrate prosodic system into an emerging contact language. But, at the same time, one of the surface phonetic correlates of accent in European superstrates, pitch, would have been associated with a phonologically quite distinct entity in many substrates, tone. What the grammatical outcome should be of contact between such systems is not at all obvious: How would native speakers of tone languages, for example, have interpreted the pitch fluctuations they observed in an accentual language? Answering such a question would be of interest not only to creolists but also to prosodic phonologists, giving us a clear instance where the study of contact languages can contribute quite actively to another subfield of linguistics.