Tone loss in Sranan Creole: re-thinking contact driven change

  • Emily Barth


Among the Surinamese creoles, Sranan is a stress-accent language whereas both Ndyuka and Saramaccan exhibit phonological tone in addition to stress. Previous attempts to explain this historical divergence understand tone loss in Sranan to be directly associated with its innovation of complex onsets modeled after Dutch. Appealing to the argument of Aceto (1996) for the presence of CR- onsets in early Surinamese Creole, I contend that it was the opposite innovation in the maroon creoles—removal of liquid clusters via epenthesis and consequent intervocalic liquid deletion, producing heavy syllables—that contributed to the survival of distinctive phonological tone.