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Re: Marking tones in conlangs

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 7, 2006, 19:10
Joseph B. wrote:
I'm curious to know how others here mark tones in any tonal conlangs
they have created.

For one of my languages, Njaama, which claims to be a pitch-accent
language (but which may not be, now that I think I understand
better what a pitch-accent language is), there are only two tones:
high and low.  So for that it's straightforward: accent mark on the
high ones, no marking on the low ones.  There are certain lexemes
that end in a floating (unrealized) high tone.  This high tone gets
realized if the word that follows has a low tone.  This is marked
with a grave accent.

This is for the romanization system.  For the orthography, there
are five markers: One that indicates all tones in the word are high;
one that indicates all are low; another that indicates first come high
tones then low tones; another that first there are all low tones then
high tones.  Then there's a raised dot which occurs before the syllable
where there's a change in tone.  This system is detailed here:

Sheli has 6 tones (super high, high, mid, low, rising and falling),
so I simply numbered each of the tones for the romanization.
Then, for the website, I use the "greaterthan"sup"lessthan" tag
to raise the number above the writing line.  I'm not too pleased
with it, because there are too many numbers--kind of hard to
read.  But because of the vowels used in the language, using
diacritics proved impossible.  That's for the romanization.  I haven't
written down the orthography, but it's incredibly complex.
Essentially, there are no tone markers, save one which  marks
words with a mid tone.  By the shape of the word (and the type
of letters used), you can tell what tone takes what.  For example...

*pan > pan (content word = high tone.  N has special final form.)
*pan > pan (function word = mid tone.  N has special final form,
marked with raised dot.)
*pana > pan (super high tone.  N uses its medial form.)
*panas > pan (mid tone.  N uses medial form, marked with raised dot.)

That's an example.  When I finally do the orthography page for
Sheli, this system will be fully explained.  More general info is

"sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison