Prosodic variation: the role of past and present contact in multilingual societies


Mary Baltazani (University of Oxford)
Olga Maxwell (University of Melbourne)
Elinor Payne (University of Oxford)

Workshop website: https://provar2021.com/

Summary description/ Workshop motivation
Our motivation for co-organising this workshop stems from our on-going research into different aspects of prosody in multilingual settings from a synchronic and diachronic perspective and our desire to bring together researchers working on different aspects of this field to exchange research findings and discuss broader, cross-cutting questions and ideas. It builds on a flourishing interest in this area of research, as evidenced by the success of special sessions on closely-related topics, namely “Prosody in Language Contact” (Speech Prosody 2012) and “Prosody of New Englishes” (ICPhS 2019). We anticipate high interest in participating in/attending the workshop.

Workshop background
Over the past three decades, extensive attention has been given to the prosody of a wide range of languages and language varieties, for monolingual contexts, e.g. English (Grabe, Kochanski & Coleman, 2005; Fletcher, Grabe & Warren, 2005), French (Welby, 2006; D’Imperio & Michelas, 2014), Arabic (Chahal & Hellmuth, 2014). The scope of these studies has been very wide-ranging, exploring diverse prosodic phenomena, including tonal inventories, tunes, and alignment, rhythm and timing, information structure and focus, and beyond (e.g. Jun & Furgeron, 2002; Dilley, 2010). Considerable attention has also been given to prosodic variation arising from simultaneous contact of two or more languages, in individuals , e.g. in bilinguals and in L2 acquisition (e.g. Mennen, 2004; Queen, 2012; O’Rourke, 2012; Romera & Elordieta, 2013; Rijswijk & Muntendam, 2014; Simonet, 2010; Lai & Gooden, 2018). However, contact phenomena also occur at the collective level of interaction, i.e. within multilingual speech communities . Given these are arguably more numerous, globally, than monolingual communities, the impact of multilingualism on prosodic variation is of high theoretical importance, and is ripe for thematic consideration by scholars.

Firstly, variation arising from language contact poses questions regarding theoretical approaches to the study of ‘a particular language’, and the suitability of traditionally applied categories. For example, recent studies have shown that post-colonial varieties of English and French have developed their own prosodic systems as a result of contact with typologically distinct languages (Gut, 2005; Zerbian, 2015; Payne & Maxwell 2018). Varieties may cross into a new typological category, for instance, with Singapore (Lim, 2009), Cantonese and Nigerian English (Gussenhoven, 2014), and Central African French (Bordal, 2013) described as containing tonal systems. Where cross-linguistic influences are multiple, as e.g. with Indian English, there may be substantial forces engendering heterogeneity, but also socially-driven factors promoting convergence (Maxwell & Payne, forthcoming). This complex interplay of influences raises questions about methodological approaches to the study of prosody in these varieties.

Secondly, from the perspective of diachrony, it is unclear (a) how prosodic effects of contact evolve and (b) whether and how fast these are attrited due to the dominant language influence once the contact situation has ended. For example, prosodic characteristics that have survived in the recipient language for decades, even centuries, after the end of contact, have been reported in: Buenos Aires Spanish, influenced by contact with Italian in the 1850s (Colantoni & Gurlekian, 2004); Asia Minor Greek after the end of contact with Turkish in 1923 (Baltazani, Przedlacka & Coleman, 2019a, b); Frenchville, Pennsylvania English after the end of contact with French in the 1830s (Bullock, 2009). Often the contact-induced prosodic patterns co-occur with corresponding patterns from the dominant language (Bullock 2009), but with distinct pragmatic uses. The theoretical interest of the diachrony of intonation is self-evident not only on its own merit, but also as a means of accounting for prosodic cross-dialectal variation and the typology of intonation more generally.

Workshop aims
● Lend focus to an exciting emerging area in speech prosody, enabling discussion of cross-cutting themes and theoretical and methodological challenges.
● Help establish a research community with a common frame of reference for this area, by bringing together established, early career and postgraduate researchers working on different aspects of prosody in multilingual settings.
● Generate general theoretical interest with respect to the phenomenon of contact prosody, both synchronically and diachronically, and contribute to our understanding of prosodic typology more generally (Jun, 2014; Gussenhoven, 2014).
● Advance our understanding of prosody in multilingual environments, and the dynamics of speech in complex and evolving communities.

Submission information
The organisers will use findings from their research to frame the discussion. Baltazani explores the diachronic development of prosody in several Greek dialects historically in contact with Turkish and Italian, using a data-driven, curve-fitting approach. Maxwell and Payne explore prosodic transfer in the dynamic multilingualism of India, including the influence of South Asian languages on Indian English, and the internal development of this variety. Our invited speaker will give a keynote paper exploring related aspects more in-depth. The remainder of the papers (whether oral or poster) will be selected via the conference’s main review process. It is our intention to invite presenters to submit written papers for an edited special volume of a journal (e.g. Journal of Laboratory Phonology).

Submission details
Please note abstract submissions are separate from , and in addition to, paper submissions to the main PaPE 2021 conference.

Abstract format: Up to one A4 side, not including references and figures, Arial 11. Only one first author paper per person.
Abstract submission email: Please submit your abstract on EasyChair

Abstract submission opens: 23 December 2020
Deadline for abstract submission: 15 February 2021
Notifications of acceptance: 28 February 2021
Workshop date: Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Organization details
Venue: Same as PaPE 2021
Duration: This will be a three and half-hours (16:00-19:00 CET) workshop comprising talks of 20-minutes (plus 5 minutes for Q/A). This is a tentative schedule subject to change on the basis of the number of submissions and accepted abstracts.

Invited speaker
Professor Carlos Gussenhoven, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and National Chiao Tung University (Hsinchu), Taiwan


  • Baltazani, M., Przedlacka, J., & Coleman, J. (2019a). Greek in contact: A historical-acoustic investigation of Asia Minor Greek intonational patterns. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistic Theory.
  • Baltazani, M., Przedlacka, J., & Coleman, J. (2019b). Intonation in contact: Asia Minor Greek and Turkish. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain & P. Warren (Eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Melbourne, Australia 2019 (pp. 2841-2845). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.
  • Bordal, G. (2013). Traces of the lexical tone system of Sango in Central African French. In E. Delais-Roussarie, M. Avanzi & S. Herment (Eds.) Prosody and Language in Contact (pp. 29-50). Berlin: Springer.
  • Bullock, B. E. (2009). Prosody in contact in French: A case study from a heritage variety in the USA. International Journal of Bilingualism, 13(2), 165–194.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006909339817.
  • Chahal, D., & Hellmuth, S. (2014). Comparing the intonational phonology of Lebanese and Egyptian Arabic. In S.-A. Jun (Ed.) Prosodic typology 2: The phonology of intonation and phrasing (pp. 365-404). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Colantoni, L., & Gurlekian, J. (2004). Convergence and intonation: Historical evidence from Buenos Aires Spanish. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 7(2), 107-119.
  • Dilley, L. C. (2010). Pitch range variation in English tonal contrasts: Continuous or categorical? Phonetica, 67(1-2), 63-81.
  • D’Imperio, M., & Michelas, A. (2014). Pitch scaling and the internal structuring of the Intonation Phrase in French. Phonology, 31(1), 95-122.
  • Grabe, E., Kochanski, G., & Coleman, J. (2005). The intonation of native accent varieties in the British Isles: Potential for miscommunication? In K. Dziubalska
  • Kolaczyk & J. Przedlacka (Eds.), English pronunciation models: A changing scene (pp. 311-337). Bern: Peter Lang.
  • Gussenhoven, C. (2014). On the intonation of tonal varieties of English. In M. Filppula, J. Klemola & D. Sharma (Eds). The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes online. Online Publication. Date: Dec 2014.
  • Gut, U. (2005). Nigerian English prosody. English World-Wide: A Journal of Varieties of English, 26(2), 153–177.
  • Fletcher, J., Grabe, E., & Warren, P. (2005). Intonational variation in four dialects of English: The high rising tone. In S.-A. Jun (Ed.) Prosodic typology: The phonology of intonation and phrasing (pp. 390-409). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Jun, S.-A., & Fougeron, C. (2002). Realisations of accentual phrase in French intonation. Probus, 14(1), 147-172.
  • Jun, S.-A. (2014). Prosodic typology: by prominence type, word prosody and macrorhythm.  In S.-A. Jun (Ed.) Prosodic typology 2: The phonology of intonation and phrasing (pp. 520-539). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Lai, L.-F., & Gooden, S. (2018). Intonation in Contact: Mandarin Influence in Yami. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody, 952-956.
  • Lim, L. (2009). Revisiting English prosody: (Some) New Englishes as tone languages? In L. Lim & N. Gisborne (Eds.) The Typology of Asian Englishes Special Issue, English World-Wide 30(2), 218-239.
  • Lim, L., & Ansaldo, U. (2015). Languages in Contact (Key Topics in Sociolinguistics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139019743.
  • Maxwell, O., & Payne, E. (forthcoming). Investigating (rhythm) variation in Indian English: An integrated approach. In R. Fuchs (Ed.) Speech rhythm in L1, L2 and Learner Varieties of English. Berlin: Springer.
  • Mennen, I. (2004). Bi-directional interference in the intonation of Dutch speakers of Greek. J. Phon., 32, 543–563.
  • O’Rourke, E. (2012). The realization of contrastive focus in Peruvian Spanish intonation. Lingua, 122(5), 494–510.
  • Payne, E., & Maxwell, O. (2018). Durational variability as a marker of prosodic structure in Indian English(es). Speech Prosody 2018, 13-16 June, Poznan, Poland.
  • Queen, R. (2012). Turkish-German bilinguals and their intonation: Triangulating evidence about contact induced language change. Language 88(4), 791-816.
  • Rijswijk, R., & Muntendam, A. (2014). The prosody of focus in the Spanish of Quechua-Spanish bilinguals: A case study on noun phrases. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18, 614-632.
  • Romera, M., & Elordieta, G. (2013). Prosodic accommodation in language contact: Spanish intonation in Majorca. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 221, 127-151.
  • Simonet, M. (2010). A contrastive study of Catalan and Spanish declarative intonation: Focus on Majorcan dialects. Probus 22, 117-148.
  • Welby, P. (2006). French intonational structure: Evidence from tonal alignment. Journal of Phonetics, 34(3), 343–371.
  • Zerbian, S. (2013). Prosodic marking of narrow focus across varieties of South African English. English World-wide: A Journal of Varieties of English, 34(1), 26-47.