Fundamental frequency change rate and dialect contact: A study on the prosody of internal migrants in Brazil

Gustavo Silveira


This paper reports partial results from a study on the prosody of Northeastern Brazilian migrants living in the Southeastern state of São Paulo. Previous works on the speech of this migrant community show that the speaker's age of arrival in São Paulo can predict the successful acquisition of Paulista segmental variables. However, their findings do not reach the suprasegmental domain of speech. The prosody of migrants in dialect contact situations has not received enough attention to draw more general conclusions about if and how prosodic patterns can change due to long-term exposure to a different regional variety. We examine fundamental frequency change rates in semi-spontaneous utterances by 23 adult migrants from the Northeastern state of Alagoas living in Campinas city (São Paulo), in contrast with a control sample by nine life-long native residents of Campinas. Mixed-effects linear models, including speaker as a random variable, show that the fundamental frequency of male Alagoan migrants rises and falls faster than male Campineiros. The models also suggest a negative correlation between the age of arrival and the rates of change. Male migrants who moved to Campinas before the age of 20 have slower change rates that do not statistically differ from native Campineiros. In turn, we observe that those over the age of 20 when migrating have faster change rates, significantly differing from the natives. These partial results, thus, suggest that the age of arrival is a factor that can help to predict the degree of prosodic accommodation in dialect contact settings.

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