Notes for Chapter 10 - Understanding Phonology

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25 Apr 2012
Understanding Phonology - 3rd edition
Chapter 10 Representing Tone
10.1 Introduction
- Tone languages use pitch contrasts to keep words apart (the same way languages use vowel
and consonant contrasts to keep words apart)
- Many languages do not use tone contrasts for morpheme specification, but to add meaning to
the expression (i.e. if an expression is a question or the answer to a question), which is known
as intonation
- Tones and vowels and consonants, are arranged on separate, parallel structural tiers
10.2 The Inadequacy of a Linear Model
- Linear conception of segmental structure: every segment is a self-contained list of features,
which makes it impossible to represent aspects of pronunciation that characterize more than
one segment as a single feature
- SPE position: in the situation where a tone language were to have words whose syllables
were all high-toned or all low-toned, each word would then have the feature [±hightone]
o However, in SPE, every segment, or every vowel, would need to be specified for
- Absolute Slicing Hypothesis: the phonological representation of a word is given by making a
number of clean cuts along its time axis, each slice then being a segment
- Goldsmith (1976): the cuts for different features should be allowed to be made in different
places so that there will be different strings of features, plus the string of depleted features
o Autosegment: any feature that comes to be removed from the others
o Tiers: separate strings of autosegments and depleted features
10.3 Word-based Tone Patterns
- Two tone melodies: high (H), low (L)
- Not all tones can appear on all syllables (constraints on distribution)
- Level tones: high/low tone
- Contour tones: falling/rising tone
- Leben (1973): distributional facts can be captured by assuming that tones are not chosen per
syllable, but per word and that tone patterns are independent of vowels and consonants
- Tonal tier and segmental tier are unassociated in the lexicon
- Goldsmith (1976), Association Convention: associate tones and TBUs from left to right, one
to one, associate left-over TBUs with the last tone, associate left-over tones with the last TBU
o TBU tone bearing unit
o This convention is not an obligatory procedure in tone languages
- Spreading: associating the last tone with the left-over syllables
- No Crowding Constraint: a limit to the number of tones that can associate with a TBU
10.3.1 Language-specific associations
- Language particular rules may override the Association Convention
- Languages may have specific constraints on associations of particular tones
- No Crossing Constraint (universal): association lines do not cross, otherwise the other of the
autosegments on certain tiers would change relative to orders on other tiers
10.4 Stability
- Stability: When a vowel is deleted and its tone sometimes remains, but shows up on an
adjacent vowel
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