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Initial vowel agglutination in the Gulf of Guinea creoles

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Abstract

The Gulf of Guinea creoles (GGCs) exhibit a number of cases of initial vowel agglutination to etymologically consonant-initial words in the lexifier, Portuguese. This property is especially common in Lung’ie (Principense). Comparing agglutinated items in the four GGCs not only sheds light on their diachronic development, it also shows the linguistic compromise made between the different strata that gave rise to this feature. It will be argued that prosthetic vowels are phonetically calqued on the Portuguese definite article system, which bleached and became generalized as something else than a gender/number system, whereas the African contribution consists of creating vowel-initial items that are guided by rules of vowel harmony.

References

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