Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

Re: Lots of Questions About Tones

From:ROGER MILLS <rfmilly@...>
Date:Thursday, July 10, 2008, 16:51
John Vertical wrote:
> >I've also seen the claim that no language ever originally *develop'd* tone >from >initial consonants; that their effect is much subtler than that of codas, >and so >a split thus conditioned may only occur in a language that's tonal to begin >with.
I think the Austro-Asiatic family (Viet, Khmer, some lgs. as far afield as India, et al.) may be a counter example to this. IINM there are non-tonal lgs. (India, the "aboriginal" lgs. of Malaysia); Khmer is said to be en route via its register system, while Viet and other AA lgs. in that country are tonal. IIRC, according to Matisoff, initial voiced/voicelss contrasts are one of the main causative factors in tonogenesis--vd.stops promoting register contrasts, ultimately leading to tonal contrasts. In fact, is Tibetan tonal? It's possible that development of tones in SE Asia is an areal phenomenon, likely due to heavy Chinese influence, if not Sino-Tibetan substrata. Not sure if there are any non-tonal Tai languages, but if Tai is ultimately/very distantly related to Austronesian (as is claimed, and believed by some), then that too is a counter-example. Some of the few AN languages spoken in Vietnam (Cham and relatives) have developed tones, clearly under local influence. Also, I've heard tell of tonal AN languages within Indonesia, but don't know the details-- if they exist, they would surely by spontaneous developments. I'd suspect that African (but they apparently have systems different than the better-known Asian ones) and Central American tone languages have non-tonal relatives. I've seen a rather convincing paper aligning Mayan (tonal) with a non-tonal language or languages of South America (in Chile or Bolivia, I forget which)
> >Tone developing from pitch accent is also a pathway to remember. And then >there's the fact that a tone system may change without external motivation >("drift"), especially once there's any sort of a countour contrast in >place. BTW, >I'm under the impression that "glide" tones are included under contour >tones, >as long as the "glideness" is phonemic. Er, tonemic. > >Personally tho, I would be much more interested in what *effects* tones may >have. Stress can trigger all kinds of things, but tone? And I mean level / >countour tone, not "register tone" (creaky / clear / brethy / etc). Can it >trigger even vowel quality changes, or is it a dead-end feature that just >won't >affect anything else? > >John Vertical


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>