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Gevey intonation (a bit long)

From:Rik Roots <rik@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 14, 2002, 19:05
I've posted a first draft on the rules of intonation for Gevey on my website
(where the examples look a little better, as I was able to use superscript
and subscript to show high and low tone). An amended version of that text

Grateful for any comments ...

An overview of Gevey intonation

Gevey does not rely on intonation (pitch) to encode any essential information
in the sound stream. But intonation is used to reinforce a number of key
messages within a phrase.

The grammar of intonation is still being investigated by Gevey linguists.
While a number of intonation systems have been proposed, and usage guidelines
number in the dozens, for practical purposes the student of Gevey can get by
using the following rules, which together account for almost 80% of
intonation usage both for the standard trader dialect and the common dialect
used in the city of Gevilla.

Most linguists agree that Gevey uses three tones: medial, high and low. High
and low tones are defined by their relationship to the medial tone, the pitch
of which varies from speaker to speaker

The basic rules of Gevey intonation

Gevey does not employ stress, as such. Each syllable is stressed equally. The
only variation between syllables in a clause will be their tone. The rules
for which tone each syllable takes are as follows:

1. The medial tone is used for all syllables in a clause, unless otherwise
determined by the following rules.

2. Each clause will end on either a high or low tone, with normally all the
syllables (bar the first) of the last word cast in the appropriate tone.
Which tone is being used is determined by whether the clause is employing
weak focus:

  # high tone is used for clauses which have a weak focus;
  # low tone is used for all other clauses.

3. For statement (non interrogative) clauses, the penultimate syllable of the
principal verb will take a high tone ...

4. except where the speaker is saying something negative or derogatory about
someone else, in which case the tone will be low.

5. However, for interrogative clauses all syllables of the principal verb
will use medial tone, with the interrogative word taking the high tone,
sometimes on the first syllable, but more often on all the syllables of the

6. Coordinating conjunctions, when used in a listing environment, will
usually take a low tone except when they are being emphasised, in which case
the conjunction will usually take high tone. When joining two clauses, the
conjunction will tend to use a high tone

7. Relative clause entry conjunctions tend to be high tone, while the hook
conjunctions are invariably low tone. This rule seems to be subordinate to
the other rules, and when these conjunctions are juxtaposed against
non-medial toned syllables, they tend to revert to medial tone.

8. The final syllable of subjective conjunctions tend to take a low tone,
though again if it is followed by a high or low tone syllable then it will
tend to revert to midtone.

9. Finally, some words normally deviate from medial tone. For instance, in
almost all dialects the words "na" and "nana" take low tone. Unfortunately
for the student of Gevey, the list of affected words varies from dialect to
dialect. Other examples include:

  # haetahzu (hello) is usually intoned haet-\\ah//-zu
  # dakahzu (good bye) is usually intoned dak-\\ah//-zu


[In the following examples, high tone syllables will be represented like
-\\this//-, while low tone syllables will be shown like -//this\\-.]

Marhe pa-\\ja//-te ye loif is-//ta'rhaesuus\\-
Marhe pajate ye loif ista'rhaesuus
Mary paid the man for the wine

Jone -//al\\- raptem ken tok -\\kap//-ce ye tuusehrh-sale ista'rou-\\buups
Jone al raptem ken tok kapce ye tuusehrh-sale ista'roubuups ten
John and his boys might be able to catch the black dog in my house

-\\Glue//-fe Jone ye loif is-\\ta'deefsubz zhek//- e pri-\\mal//-ta yuu
pouzuul ta'-\\tuusrheks//- -//oc\\-
Gluefe Jone ye loif ista'deefsubz zhek e primalta yuu pouzuul ta'tuusrheks oc
John sees the man giving a stick to the dog in the field

Mizelh let stri-\\ma//-ce ce -//roub\\- reta-//se\\- glue-\\fo//-ce ye
Mizelh let strimace ce roub retase gluefoce ye tuusehrh
We were running home when we saw the dog

Jaakra cuu vopash -//tath\\- cuu ken cong zdo-\\ca//-ta -//al\\-
glue-\\fa//-ta -\\zhec//- the -\\nezh//-lal galn'hiete -//oc\\-
Jaakra cuu vopash tath cuu ken cong zdocata al gluefata zhec the nezhlal
galn'hiete oc
The Creator came and saw the city with its tower, which the people had built


A better version of these examples can be found at



JS Bangs <jaspax@...>