Information-Seeking Question Intonation in Basque Spanish and Its Correlation with Degree of Contact and Language Attitudes
Elordieta Alcibar, Gorka
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Languages 5(4) : (2020) // Article ID 70
The present study analyzes the prosodic characteristics of the variety of Spanish in contact with Basque (in the Basque Country, Spain). We focus on information-seeking yes/no questions, which present different intonation contours in Spanish and Basque. In Castilian Spanish, these sentences end in a rising contour, whereas in Basque, they end in a falling or rising–falling circumflex contour. In our previous work, this topic was investigated among the urban populations of Bilbao and San Sebastian. The results were that 79% of information-seeking yes/no questions had final falling intonational configurations. All the speakers presented a substantial presence of final falls regardless of their linguistic profile, but there were differences among speakers in the degree of presence of such features. A correlation was observed between the dependent variable of ‘frequency of occurrence of final falls in absolute interrogatives’ and social factors, such as ‘degree of contact with Basque’ and ‘attitudes towards Basque and the Basque ethnolinguistic group’. The correlation was that the higher the degree of contact with Basque and the more positive the attitudes towards Basque and the Basque ethnolinguistic group, the greater the frequency of occurrence of final falling intonational contours in information-seeking absolute interrogatives. The interpretation of this correlation was that the adoption of the characteristic Basque prosody allows speakers to be recognized as members of the Basque community. In the present study, we focused on rural areas. Falling intonational contours at the end of information-seeking absolute interrogatives were even more common than in urban areas (93.4%), and no correlation was found with degree of contact with Basque and with attitudes towards Basque. Our interpretation is that in rural areas the presence of Basque in daily life is stronger, and that there is a consolidated variety of Spanish used by all speakers regardless of their attitudes. Thus, the adoption of intonating features of this language is not the only indicator belonging to the Basque ethnolinguistic group. Our study reveals the great relevance of subjective social factors, such as language attitudes, in the degree of convergence between two languages.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).