Pitch polarity in Palenquero

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In the Afro-Iberian creole language Palenquero, tonic syllables receive a level H tone, and lexical words have at most one H tone per word. According to previous studies, the final H tone of a phrase is usually either maintained as a level tone with no L% boundary tone, or is downstepped to a mid tone. The present study examines phrase-final combinations of words ending in tonic vowels followed by one or more negative, possessive, or object clitics, all of which receive an H tone. Field data reveal a systematic process of tonal dissimilation between the tonic syllables, most frequently involving pitch <sc>upstepping</sc> of the clitic, and less frequently downstepping of the clitic. This systematic pitch dissimilation, not found elsewhere in Palenquero (including other phrase-final combinations of successive tonic syllables that do not involve clitics), suggests the operation of the Obligatory Contour Principle, in turn pointing to the emergence of an H tone lexically attached to Palenquero enclitics.


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