Spontaneous Nasalization in the Development of Afro-Hispanic Language
Afro-Hispanic or bozal Spanish, from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century, exhibited numerous cases of "epenthetic" nasal consonants, exemplified by Punto Rico < Puerto Rico; limbre < libre 'free'; pincueso < pescuezo 'neck'; and monosyllabic clitics such as lon < lo(s), lan < la(s), and so on. The present study, based on a comparison of Afro-Hispanic (AH) language data from a wide range of regions and time periods, provides alternative models for spontaneous nasalization. The first involves vowel nasalization, analyzed as the linking of a free (nasal) autosegment to the first available vowel of relevant words; Spanish speakers in turn reinterpreted the nasal vowels as a nasal consonant homorganic to the preceding consonant. Cases of apparent word-final nasal epenthesis, invariably involving phrase-internal clitics, resulted from prenasalization of following word-initial obstruents, a well-documented process in Afro-Iberian linguistic contacts. The preference for voiced obstruents to pre-nasalize is attributed to the lack of the normal fricative pronunciation of /b/, /d/, and /g/ in AH speech. In general, Spanish voiced obstruents are pronounced as stops only following nasals. The stop pronunciation of Pol, /d/, and /g/ by AH speakers was reinterpreted as an additional Root node, to which a floating (nasal) autosegment could be linked. AH nasalization generally seems to stem from Africans' underspecification of Spanish vowels and consonants, resulting from the precarious conditions under which Spanish was learned by speakers of various African languages.
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