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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

Results from variationist analyses suggest that Haitian Creole (HC) is on the cusp of a change to the morphophonological organization of its postposed determiner clitic, LA. Speakers systematically surface nasal forms of LA in the absence of the expected conditioning environment, that is, the systematic surfacing of the nasal forms following oral nuclei according to language internal and external (social) motivators. In this study, I coded independent linguistic factors for 9,789 tokens of LA following an oral syllable. Tokens were automatically retrieved from transcribed data provided by the IARPA Babel Haitian Creole Language Pack (Andrus et al. 2017). This yielded 847 tokens of nasal variants following oral syllables. My analysis of oral versus nasal variants of LA suggests an overwhelming preference for high contexts (i.e., preceding [+high] nucleus) which I argue is due to the historical loss of a high nasal contrast in the language. To overcome this preference and glean reliable information about the patterning of nasalized LA after oral syllables, we must isolate non-high from high contexts. In doing so, we can better illustrate the rising popularity of the nasal variants over time and affirm the change taking place in HC postposed determiners.

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