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Re: Historical tone changes

From:Paul Roser <pkroser@...>
Date:Thursday, August 21, 2003, 15:22
On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 21:09:57 -0400, Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:

>Now it seems that the unstressed syllable can also be either rising or >falling. This explains most of the data, and the few exceptions can either >be altered or explained as borrowings from other languages. So what I'm >wondering now is whether Sumig originally had two tones (rising and >falling), and the language somehow developed a distinction of stress (high >and low) on top of that, or if it originally had a stress system, and the >contour tones developed later. High/low distinctions in single-syllable >words might have developed from shortened forms of two-syllable words. > >What I really ought to do is learn something about a number of tonal >languages and try to figure out how the tone systems work. It may turn out >that Simik is an unnatural system and needs to be altered in some way. I >can't think of any languages that have only contour tones and no level >tones. But beyond a few of the more common languages, like Chinese, Thai, >Vietnamese, and Tibetan, it isn't easy to find good information on tonal >languages, especially relating to how the tone systems develop over time. >Thai is interesting because the writing system reflects an earlier stage of >development (as is Tibetan). But it's not easy to see how the existing >tones could have developed from the tones represented in the writing >system.
I know that the tones of !Xoo (Khoisan) are described by Tony Traill as all being contour tones, and this language has a kind of tonal concord system, but don't have the details handy. I also recall a paper on IIRC Palantla Chinantec that describes a very complex tonal system that also involves a 'ballistic' vs 'controlled' contrast (I know ballistic was one term, the opposite was something like controlled or steady-state), though I cannot recall what the perceived difference was. You might also want to consult Moira Yip's _Tone_ (Cambridge University Press) - I haven't read it yet, but it is supposed to cover the breadth of tonal languages in the world today - though I don't believe it deals much with the historical development of tone. Here's the blurb on it from the LinguistList: "Cambridge University Press ( Tone Moira Yip, University of London, UK The sounds of language can be divided into consonants, vowels, and tones--the use of pitch to convey meaning. Seventy percent of the world's languages use pitch in this way. Assuming little or no prior knowledge of the topic, this textbook provides a clearly organized introduction to tone and tonal phonology. Comprehensive in scope, it examines the main types of tonal systems found in Africa, the Americas, and Asia, using examples from the widest- possible range of tone languages. Contents: 1. Introduction; 2. Contrastive tone; 3. Tonal features; 4. The autosegmental nature of tone, and its analysis in Optimality Theory; 5. Tone in morphology and in syntax; 6. African languages; 7. Asian and Pacific languages; 8. The Americas; 9. Tone, stress, accent and intonation; 10. Perception and acquisition of tone. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics 2002/376 pp./13 figures/9 maps 052177314-8/Hb/List: $70.00* 052177445-4/Pb/List: $24.00*" Regards, Bfowol