Reassociated tones and coalescent syllables in Naxi (Tibeto-Burman)

Abstract : The Western dialect of Naxi has four lexical tones: High, Mid, Low and Rising; the latter is rare in the lexicon. Rising contours on monosyllables are frequent in connected speech, however, as a result of a process of syllable reduction: reduction of a morpheme carrying the High tone results in re-association of its tone to the syllable that precedes it in the sentence, creating a rising contour. An experiment (with one speaker and five listeners) establishes that there is not only one rising contour that originates in tonal reassociation, as reported in earlier descriptions, but two: Low-to-High and Mid-to-High—as could be expected by analogy with phenomena observed in Niger-Congo languages and elsewhere. A second set of experiments (same speaker; six listeners) investigates the reduction of Mid- and Low-tone syllables: they reduce to [ə̄] and [ə̀], respectively, and coalesce with the preceding syllable (in Naxi, syllabic structure is simply consonant+glide+vowel). Unlike High-tone syllable reduction, this process stops short of complete tonal de-linking. These experiments aim to provide a complete picture of syllable reduction patterns in Naxi. It is argued that the notions of floating tones and tonal reassociation can be usefully applied to the Naxi data.
Document type :
Journal articles
Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2007, 37 (3), pp.237-255


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Submitted on : Thursday, May 3, 2007 - 3:05:31 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, December 22, 2007 - 11:11:03 PM

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Alexis Michaud, Xueguang He. Reassociated tones and coalescent syllables in Naxi (Tibeto-Burman). Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2007, 37 (3), pp.237-255. <hal-00144485>

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