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Re: Lots of Questions About Tones

From:ROGER MILLS <rfmilly@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 17:48
Eugene Oh wrote:
>On Wed, Jul 9, 2008 at 12:11 AM, Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...> >wrote: > > > If I correctly gather which theories about tonogenesis are most widely- >or > > well- > > -accepted; and if I understand them to the right degree; I don't > > understand > > why any language has more than three tones. To wit, a rising tone, a > > falling > > tone, and a level tone: with no distinction between two different rises, > > nor > > two different falls, nor two different level tones; and also, with no > > contour > > tones. > > > >I suspect many of the questions will have a simple answer - consonant >clusters and how each simplification adds a tone. I'm thinking of Middle >Chinese, which Bernhard Karlgren reconstructed to show complex consonant >clustering, as compared to modern Mandarin, which obviously has much >simplified phonotactics. >
Good observation, though not so simple in practice :-)))) If I'm not mistaken, Sino-Tibetan began with bisyllabic forms, or at least Prefix+monosyl., where the prefix could be either C- or CV-; likewise the Thai langs. and Austro-asiatic (Vietnamese). So the reduction of these forms depended on-- --stress pattern --voicing of the initial/medial/final consonants (insofar as they were present) --stops/fricatives/nasals/liquids-- each can have unique tonal outcomes --deletion of vowels and treatment of resulting C-clusters --coalescence of vowel sequences --vowel formants/timbres ([i] seems to have higher pitch than [a] for ex.) --likely devoicing of (esp.) final stops, with a tendency to further reduce all contrasts in final position to a handful (eg. all stops > ?, all nasals > a single nasal, often [N], fricatives > h or 0, and all finals can ult. be lost but their tonal affects survive). Haven't made a real study of tonogenesis-- most of this is what I remember from auditing a course with Matisoff years ago, and subsequent reading. It all entered into the creation of my Gwr language-- though the online paper only deals with the sound changes, not the resulting tones,which is too big a file (and still tentative) to upload at this point