Pitch polarity in Palenquero
A possible locus of H tone
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 upstepping 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.