Formalizing creole sound change
An Optimality Theoretic account
This article examines sound change in French Lexifier Creoles and the neutralization of contrast involving the feature [round]; secondary concerns include the nature of diachronically related inputs, base richness and decreolization. Phonological restructuring is described in an Optimality Theoretic grammar distinguishing between perceptual, declarative and procedural strata. Base richness holds only at the declarative stratum, as input to the perceptual and procedural strata are constrained by experience and feature licensing, respectively. Explanation of phonological restructuring centers on the perception grammar, where constraints refer to the parsing of experiential input. In the incipient creole, neutralization of contrast predicated by [round] is initially attributed to substrate grammatical transfer, reflecting first language attenuation. The possibility of creole-specific learning or attenuation to second language contrasts is also addressed and shown to lead to distinct output scenarios, depending upon the reranking of constraints under each stratum. Crucially, reranking at either the declarative or procedural strata is dependent upon learning at the perceptual stratum; rankings that do not mirror those of either the lexifier or substrate lead to output variability, the frequency of which is hypothesized to frame the eventual stabilization of representations.
Cited by 3 other publications
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