Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles

Volume 4 (2013)

A Monophonemic Analysis of Prenasalized Consonants in Saramaccan

Yolanda Rivera Castillo (Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras)

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This paper describes Saramaccan prenasalized consonants. We demonstrate that a phonetic analysis of consonant duration, and the duration of vowels preceding prenasalized consonants confirms phonological descriptions that characterize these units as monophonemic. We also provide evidence that, for some speakers, these have nasal allophones but, nevertheless, they are not “fortis nasals” (Voorhoeve 1959: 440). Our data show that Saramaccan has not only monophonemic onsets with complex melodies but also one biphonemic onset (/st/) of decreasing sonority. This study deals with the phonological interpretation of these consonants, and also provides a phonetic and phonological description of a Creole with a dominant CV syllable structure.

Keywords: Saramaccan, prenasalized stops, monophonemic, clusters, onsets, sonority