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Title:Epenthesis, Deletion and the Emergence of the Optimal Syllable in Creole
Authors:Birgit Alber, Ingo Plag
Comment:A revised version of this paper was published as Alber B.& Plag I (2001), 'Epenthesis, deletion and the emergence of the optimal syllable in creole: the case of Sranan', Lingua 111, p. 811-840.
Abstract:Epenthesis, Deletion and the

Emergence of the Optimal Syllable in Creole

Birgit Alber and Ingo Plag

One of the central problems in creole studies is the nature of the

processes that are involved in creolization. This paper investigates

this issue with regard to the restructuring of the syllable in the

genesis of one English-based creole, Sranan.

In the emergence of Sranan, as in that of many other creoles, we can

observe the restructuring of syllables through epenthesis and deletion

of segments. These processes are, however, not uniform. For example, in

some environments (e.g. certain kinds of complex onsets) deletion is

preferred (cf. strong > tranga), whereas in others epenthesis is

preferred (e.g. in word-final position, as in walk > waka). The paper

presents a systematic analysis of the two interrelated processes in

optimality theoretic terms, showing that the observed phenomena can be

accounted for in a unitary fashion by the complex interaction of

violable ranked constraints.

Based on this analysis, we answer the question which principles govern

the development of syllable structure in creolization: universal

preference laws, transfer from the substrate languages or superstratal

influence? We argue that all three elements are important in the

creation of the creole, but each of them in a different and very

specific way. The superstrate provides the segmental material which the

emerging creole tries to preserve faithfully, but universal preference

laws disturb faithful copying of the superstrate system. This is

possible because the substrate exerts its influence imposing a

particular grammar - high ranked structural constraints and low ranked

faithfulness constraints - on the creole.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1