Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 April 2008
Research in the past few decades has shown that Northern Bizkaian Basque possesses a pitch-accent system of the Tokyo Japanese type, with a contrast between lexically accented and unaccented words. There is, however, a separate area of the Basque-speaking territory where we also find tonal accent phenomena: Western Navarre. In comparison with Northern Bizkaian, the Western Navarrese prosodic system has remained under-studied and ill-understood. In this paper, which focuses on the Western Navarrese Basque variety spoken in the town of Goizueta, we demonstrate that both stress and tone are lexically contrastive in this prosodic system. Words can be stressed on either the first or the second syllable of the stem and the stressed syllable is lexically specified as bearing one of two contours, in a way that is reminiscent of other European pitch-accent languages. We show that stress is consistently cued by both duration and relative intensity. Pitch contours are used for an independent contrast in accent type. The existence of contrastive tone in Western Navarrese Basque, in addition to contrastive stress, was not previously known. Basque may be one of the few languages where both Tokyo-type and Swedish-type lexical pitch-accent systems are concurrently attested and can still be phonetically and phonologically investigated.
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