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Re: Tones & Pitch

From:Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>
Date:Sunday, January 24, 1999, 20:36
Jon Kelm wrote:

>Also, do tones develop as sound changes (I've heard stories about >the Scandinavian languages), or are there examples of natlangs that >have always had tones?
Whether certain natlangs have always had tones (as in, the ancestral language having tones since the beginning of time) would be debatable wouldn't it? I mean, how far back can linguist reconstruct languages? If there was a Babel tongue, I doubt linguists would be able to reconstruct it to find out if it was tonal. But there are some reconstructed proto-languages that are believe to be tonal. I believe Bantu and Tai-Kadai are two and there are perhaps more. As for tones developing due to sound changes, many of the tones in Asian languages are said to have developed when certain consonants were lost. For instance, I have read that in Thai, there was a series of voiceless nasals. These triggered allophonic tones. When the distinction between voiced and voiceless nasals was then lost, the allophonic tones became phonemic tones. Similarly, in some Boreanesian languages (my conlang family), tones were developed when the distinction between stiff (creaky) and slack phonation was lost. The falling tone from the stiff phonation and the level from the slack. Regards, -Kristian- 8-)