Date of Award
Master of Arts
The aim of this study is to contribute to the larger body of research concerned with the prosodic systems of the Basque dialects currently spoken in Southern Basque country. More specifically, the author focuses on Standard Basque from the Bilbao area and its potential prosodic system(s). Standard Basque was phonologically codified by the Basque Academy, but there was no prosodic system provided by the Basque Academy. Although initial investigations have been undertaken by Hualde, more current research has shown that the standard spoken outside of the classroom is different from that which is taught (Lantto, 2019; Rodríguez-Ordóñez, 2016). Given that prosody is rarely taught within the classroom, it would not be surprising for differences to be found. The most obvious difference between Standard Basque and some of the traditional dialects is that Standard has no word-level contrastive stress; functions such as singular/plural distinctions and case are marked by postpositions. What has been determined is that the prosodic system of Standard Basque, or Batua, patterns closely to that of Gipuzkoan Basque. However, as noted by Hualde & Elordieta (2014), there is little knowledge regarding the variation of the functioning of Standard Basque’s acoustic correlates. As stated by Elordieta & Hualde (2001), it is only after a comparison of the intonational characteristics of the currently spoken dialects has been conducted that a typological categorization of Basque prosodic systems can be made. As Standard Basque was not codified with a prosodic system, it ultimately comes down to what individual speakers and speaker groups have done to account for this in their standard dialect productions. It cannot be presumed that the prosody of SB (Standard Basque) found in one region will exactly line up with prosody found in other regions; these too would need to be documented and analyzed as prosodic sub-systems. One major gap in current research is the analysis of intonation at the phrasal level; Gaminde et al. (2011) look at acoustic correlates and their respective force, but only at the word level. While Hualde looks at intonation, the study uses Gipuzkoan Basque used as a substratum, which constricts the findings to that particular dialectal region. For this reason, the dialect of Batua spoken in the Bilbao area proves to be worth investigating. The local dialect of the area was long ago lost, such that Batua could be said to be the Bilbao dialect. The revitalization movement of the 1960s brought about a significant number of new speakers, who learned the standard variety in school. To add to this, Bilbao’s presence as a major commercial hub has made it so that there is a vast number of regional vernaculars circulating throughout the area, all in contact with one another. For this study, data was taken from 6 Basque-Spanish bilinguals whose primary dialect of Basque is the standard, that participated in two experimental tasks: eliciting words in isolation in one task and eliciting neutral declaratives and yes-no questions in the other. These tasks were a means of gathering raw data on the intonation of both word and phrasal level productions. Results supports the previous findings of Gaminde et al. (2015) as well as those of Aurrekoetxea et al. (2015), in terms of how stress is realized in Standard Basque when taking into account factors such as syllable weight and syllable count. What’s more, findings also support the proposition of Hualde & Beristain (to appear) that inter-speaker variation will be heavily affected by the contact speakers have with other dialects of Basque.
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