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Re: Lots of Questions About Tones

From:John Vertical <johnvertical@...>
Date:Thursday, July 10, 2008, 19:09
On Thu, 10 Jul 2008 12:51:31 -0400, ROGER MILLS wrote:
>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.
>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'm not familiar with everything you bring up, but I suspect a misunderstanding. The argument is not that non-tonal languages couldn't develop tone, they certainly do. It's that, whenever it happens, it may be from coda consonants, or metrical factors, or something else yet; but not the initial consonants. Anyway, I didn't need to google for long before finding a counterexample to specifically that argument… Also, speaking of references, everyone in this discussion has seen this paper by Harris, right? If not, it's an essential read. John Vertical