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Convergence and intonation: historical evidence from Buenos Aires Spanish

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 July 2004

LAURA COLANTONI
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
JORGE GURLEKIAN
Affiliation:
Laboratorio de Investigaciones Sensoriales, CONICET, Argentina

Abstract

In this paper we present experimental evidence showing that Buenos Aires Spanish differs from other Spanish varieties in the realization of pre-nuclear pitch accents and in the final fall in broad focus declarative utterances. Whereas other Spanish varieties have been described consistently as showing late peak alignments, Buenos Aires Spanish displays early peak alignments. The alignment pattern found in Buenos Aires broad focus declarative utterances is not totally foreign to Spanish: it is attested in a quite different function, i.e. to signal contrastive focus. In addition, Buenos Aires Spanish also seems to differ from other Spanish varieties in the realization of the intonation contour in utterance-final intonational phrases, where a pronounced tendency for down-stepped peaks is observed. We argue that these patterns, which emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, and coincided with the peak of Italian immigration, are due to a combination of direct and indirect transfer from Italian. As a result, two intonational systems that were typologically similar before contact took place (Hualde, 2002) became more similar after contact, in what can be interpreted as a case of convergence.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2004

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Footnotes

We thank José I. Hualde, Rafael Núñez-Cedeño and Sarah Thomason for their generous comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. All errors remain our own.

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