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.


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