“I hope you are all find”: pre-pausal and phrase-internal post-coronal [t] and [s] epenthesis in a variety of Nigerian English

Abstract : L2 speakers of Nigerian English in parts of northeastern Nigeria occasionally insert a coronal stop [t] or fricative [s] following another coronal pre-pausally and phrase-internally. The paper discusses this typologically unusual phenomenon for the L2 Nigerian English of speakers whose L1 is the Adamawa language Bena (ISO 639-3: yun). At least the [t] epenthesis is not restricted to Bena L1 speakers, but the exact areal distribution of this phenomenon is not known for the moment. The [t] and [s] epenthesis occurs in Bena English in the following environments. A [t] is inserted after pre-pausal (especially, utterance-final) coronal continuants [n], [l] and [s]. A [s] is inserted pre-pausally (especially, utterance-finally) after a coronal stop [t] and phrase-internally after coronal continuants [n] and [l]. The insertion is not obligatory and speakers vary in its frequency. I do not yet fully understand the driving forces behind the phrase-internal [s] epenthesis, but the pre-pausal insertion of [t] and [s] arguably results from an imperfect approximation in Bena English of the durational properties and release of pre-pausal coronal obstruents of more standard varieties of Nigerian English. The following phonetic properties of Bena as L1 normally absent from Nigerian English appear to contribute to the observed outcome in particular. First, in Bena, pre-pausal obstruents are voiceless, and being followed by a glottal closure, they normally lack an audible release. In fact, pre-pausal glottalization is a more general feature of Bena prosody and is not restricted to obstruents. The glottal closure tends to have an audible release in the case of utterance-final pauses but may lack it with other types of pauses. Second, at least the pre-pausal continuant obstruents in Bena are normally also lengthened, which implies a sustained articulatory effort in their realization. Thus, if we take the case of the pre-pausal [t] insertion as an example, the following scenario for its appearance may be proposed. The Bena pre-pausal glottal closure is transferred into Bena English. However, in accordance with the overall shorter durations of pre-pausal obstruents in Nigerian English, it is released much too quickly, while the oral articulation of the preceding continuant coronal obstruent is still largely sustained. This may occasionally result in a percept of a released [t], which can later become phonologized.
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Dmitry Idiatov. “I hope you are all find”: pre-pausal and phrase-internal post-coronal [t] and [s] epenthesis in a variety of Nigerian English. 22nd Manchester Phonology Meeting, May 2014, Manchester, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-01481330⟩

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