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Asymmetries in the intonation system of the Maastricht dialect of Limburgian

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Asymmetries in the intonation system of the Maastricht dialect of Limburgian

The dialect of Maastricht has a binary tone contrast (Accent 1 vs Accent 2) and four intonation contours. However, the full set of four is only observable in a nuclear syllable with Accent 1 which is antepenultimate or earlier in the intonational phrase. In penultimate position, three intonation contours occur, and in final position two. For Accent 2, the count is three in penultimate position or earlier, and two in final position. Only two of the three intonation contours that occur in penultimate position for each of the two tone classes are the same, the third being a different one for each tone class from the remaining two intonation contours in the set of four. Strikingly, a falling contour is an interrogative contour for Accent 1 on non-final nuclear syllables, but a declarative contour on final nuclear syllables. It will be argued these asymmetries are explained by the assumptions that (a) underlyingly the language has the bitonal pitch accents LH and HL, (b) it has an optional right-hand boundary tone Hi or Li, creating three boundary conditions, (c) the lexical tone contrast is privative, Accent 2 being a H-tone and Accent 1 nothing, (d) the language enforces the OCP , and (e) it enforces a limitation of two tones per syllable unless this would imply the deletion of a pitch accent, a lexical tone or a boundary tone. This grammar predicts all the gaps and all existing forms, with one exception: a predicted falling-rising contour on a penultimate nucleus with Accent 1 is unattested. It is argued that this form is in fact grammatical, but is avoided in order not to jeopardize the contrast between the two lexical tone classes for the intonation contour concerned.

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