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Phonation or Register Tones (was: Trial of the century?)

From:Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 19, 1999, 12:03
John Fisher wrote:
> >Great! A conlang with tones! Off-hand, I can't think of any other >that has been mentioned here... Unless I'm wrong? >
Boreanesian does not have tones per se, at least not in the sense of tones found in most languages where varying pitches play a phonemic role. In Boreanesian, it is *not* the movement of the glottis that is phonemic, rather it is the degree of constriction in the glottis that is phonemic. Some call this register tones, but I prefer to use the term phonations because I don't feel the word 'tone' is really applicable. It appears that tonal conlangs are common enough. But I dare say that there are not many conlangs with contrastive phonations. Some languages contrast creaky voice, modal voice, and breathy voice at the syllable level. I have heard that many Austro-Asiatic languages do this as well as a few Amerind languages. In any case, it is quite rare the world over. Could this account for why this might be rare among conlangs? AFAIK, these languages don't have what I'd call phonemic phonation 'glides' in the sense that a phonemic change from one phonation to another occurs within the syllable. This must be even rarer - only Danish comes pretty close to mind. Boreanesian has contrastive 'phonation glides'. Every heavy syllable is articulated with one of two contrastive phonation glides. One, which I call creaky, starts out with regular modal voice and quickly changes to a creaky voice at the syllable coda and ends in a glottal stop [?]. This quite reminiscent of the Danish 'stoed'. The other, which I call clear, starts out with regular modal voice and quickly changes to a slightly breathy voice at the syllable coda and ends in a voiceless consonant (or glottal fricative [h]). Anyone else dare challenge the uniqueness of Boreanesian? 8-) Regards, -Kristian- 8-)