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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The relationship between phonological theory and World Englishes is generally characterized by a mutual lack of interest. This chapter argues for a greater engagement of both fields with each other, looking at constraint-based theories of phonology, especially Optimality Theory (OT), as a case in point. Contact varieties of English provide strong evidence for synchronically active constraints, as it is substrate or L1 constraints that are regularly transferred to the contact variety, not rules. Additionally, contact varieties that have properties that are in some way ‘in between’ the substrate and superstrate systems provide evidence for constraint hierarchies or implicational relationships between constraints, illustrated here primarily with examples from syllable structure. Conversely, for a scholar working on the description of World Englishes, OT can offer an explanation of where the patterns found in a contact variety come from, namely from the transfer of substrate constraint rankings (and subsequent gradual constraint demotion).

Keywords: Optimality Theory, constraints, phonology, syllable, language contact, transfer

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