Prosodic transfer in Black South African English

Marc Swerts, Sabine Zerbian, Tilburg University

This article reports on a production and perception study that was carried out with Zulu-English bilinguals in order to investigate how suprasegmental aspects differ in Black South African English compared to White English-speaking South African English. Two prosodic phenomena were investigated: prosodic focus marking on noun phrases (NPs) and prosodic boundary marking. The results support existing claims in the literature that Black South African English falls into at least two distinct groups (van Rooy 2004): L2 English spoken by non-native speakers and L1 speakers of English whose dialects have developed from non-native varieties (Da Silva 2008: 96), the speech of the former showing L1 influence in not marking focus prosodically. In contrast, prosodic means are used for boundary marking by all speakers.