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

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By McWhorter, John; Good, Jeff

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Extra resources for A Grammar of Saramaccan Creole

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Ideophones Saramaccan has an extensive array of ideophones with distinct phonological characteristics from the rest of the vocabulary. 5. 7. discusses their syntax. Here, we touch briefly upon their segmental features. Perhaps the most striking segmental feature of ideophones is that a handful of them allow a nasal coda of form m – otherwise the language only very rarely allows coda consonants. ’ Another noteworthy feature of ideophones, not surprising given their sound symbolic status, is that transcribed long vowels in ideophones are often extra long – of roughly comparable length to sequences of three or more transcribed vowels.

Bígi ‘big’ and bése ‘frog type’ vs. bési ‘bus’; wéti ‘white’ vs. wѓ̗ti ‘law’ and bé ‘let’ vs. bѓ ‘red’; and kési ‘coffin’ vs. kósi ‘scold’ and kulé ‘run’ vs. ’ The vowel ѓ The vowel written here as ѓ is broadly transcribable as [‫]ܭ‬, that is, as a lower mid front vowel. This transcription is found in most sources, including Voorhoeve’s early (1959) work and subsequently. In orthographic systems of Saramaccan, this vowel has been represented as è (or as Č when also marked for high tone) and as ë.

This word has a variant form fela̗ ˾ ti, and the pattern of nasalization suggests perhaps the two vowels are not interpreted as being part of the same syllable even when the l is not found and indicates more generally that differential patterns of nasalization in long vowels or vowel combinations may be probative in determining the phonological structure of these patterns in some cases. However, while we would not rule out the possible discovery of a few marginal cases suggesting a contrast between V‫ ܡ‬and ‫ ܡܡ‬sequences, it does not appear to be a significant area of contrast even if, phonetically, nasalization is not necessarily spread out evenly within long vowels or vowel combinations.

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