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Marking Tone with Punctuation: Orthography Experimentation and Reform in Eastern Dan (Côte d'Ivoire)

Abstract : Eastern Dan has five level tones, six contours and many monosyllabic words, resulting in an extraordinarily heavy functional load of tone. This led those first involved in orthography development to create a novel system for marking tone that uses punctuation symbols in wordinitial and wordfinal position. This orthography also has considerable segmental overrepresentation and makes extensive use of umlauts to symbolize vowels. In a quantitative classroom experiment, we tested it against Valentin Vydrin’s recent proposal for radical reform that advocates superscript diacritics for marking tone, biunique correspondence for consonants and vowels, and special characters in place of umlauts. Sixtyeight participants with no previous exposure to written Eastern Dan were taught various combinations of tones and segments in parallel groups and their acquired skills were tested in dictation and oral reading tasks. The results point to an advantage for the experimental orthography that combines the punctuation tone marking strategy with biunique segmental correspondence and special characters for marking vowels. Nevertheless, the language community has recently adopted Vydrin’s reform in its entirety.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02482223
Contributor : Valentin Vydrin <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 17, 2020 - 8:26:45 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 1:36:56 AM

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David Roberts, Dana Basright-Brown, Valentin Vydrin. Marking Tone with Punctuation: Orthography Experimentation and Reform in Eastern Dan (Côte d'Ivoire). Graphemics in the 21st Century 2018, Jun 2018, Brest, France. pp.293-327, ⟨10.36824/2018-graf-robe⟩. ⟨halshs-02482223⟩

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