The phonetics of tone in Saramaccan

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This paper presents the results of a preliminary investigation of the phonetics of tone in Saramaccan, an Atlantic creole spoken in Suriname. Two particular aspects of Saramaccan tonology are focused on (i) the ways in which a phonological split between words marked for pitch accent and words marked for lexical tone are manifested phonetically and (ii) the phonetic properties of a phonological process of high-tone plateauing found in the language. The results of the study indicate that, on a phonetic level, surface tones deriving from phonological pitch accent are not distinguished from true lexical tones, and they also establish the presence of a super-high tone found only ideophones. In addition, the study mostly verifies existing descriptions of the plateauing process.


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