Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

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

From:And Rosta <a.rosta@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 10, 1999, 19:14
> 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.
Tsxaah is tonal and contrasts creaky, breathy & modal voice on syllables. Livagian is tonal (a bit like Serbocroat) and has creak vs modal as an allophonic realization of a certain phonological distinction (cf. (American) English _sentence_ = [se~s] with creaky vowel).
> 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?
I doubt it. Many conlangers seem to positively seek out the exotic. Is it not the case, for example, that the proportion of conlangs with clicks is much greater than the proportion of natlangs with clicks? Likewise for, say, ergativity. And imperative pronouns.
> 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-)
No. I often remark upon many to-me-pleasing simimilarities between Boreanesian and both Livagian and other of my linguistic predilections, but nothing that would impute the slightest blandness or deficiency-of-imagination to Boreanesian's ever-pleasant flavour. --And.