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Tones (was: loglang vocab again)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 26, 2003, 14:57
Garth Wallace scripsit:

> can a tone be a morpheme by itself?
Well, it's perhaps going too far to say that Cantonese bianyin are morphemes, but they are definitely not on a level with the basic tones. What happens is that certain derivational relationships can sometimes (probably not productively nowadays) be expressed by changing the tone to either high-rising (35) or high-level (55), often accompanied by non-phonemic lengthening. Possible semantics include nominalization, diminution, derogation, or familiarity -- words with changed tones are not part of high-register literary Cantonese. In the Taishanese dialect of Cantonese, commonly spoken in Chinatowns worldwide, pronouns can even be pluralized by changing the tone. -- "You're a brave man! Go and break through the John Cowan lines, and remember while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are!" --Rufus T. Firefly