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Autosegmental Phonology

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Autosegmental Phonology
By 周 沫
Background
Contour
language
Tone language
level tone
language
contour language







Contrasts mainly dependent on pitch
movement on each syllable
e.g. Cantonese
[si ] ‘city’ (low-mid to mid, rising)
[si ] ‘history’ (low-mid to high, rising)
[si ] ‘matter’ (low-mid, level)
[si ] ‘silk’ (high, level)
[si ] ‘time’ (low-mid to low, falling)
[si ] ‘to try’ (mid, level)
level tone languages






tonal contrasts are predominantly
dependent on the pitch height of each
syllable
e.g. Igbo
w
ak
[ a] ‘bed’ LL
[aa] ‘war’ HH
[aSa] ‘weaver bird’ HL
[uba] ‘wealth’ LH
Tone may mark grammatical
categories



timeless
[ "ma] ‘I show’
continuous
[ "ma] ‘I am showing’
past
[ "ma] ‘I showed’
The Absolute Slicing Hypothesis

traditional SPE-style phonology
regarded tone as a feature belonging to
the vowel, but there is evidence that
tones have some autonomy from the
vowels on which they are realized:
Contour tones behave as if a combination
of simple tones, e.g. in tonal polarity, where
some marker always has the opposite tone to
that of the base, as in Margi:



LHL a-flma
‘we (two) bathe’
HLH a-w"ma
‘we (two) run’
HLHL a-vlma ‘we (two) jump’
tonal melodies – Leben (1973) – data
from Mende show only 5 basic patterns at
the word level.





H k ‘war’ l ‘house’ hawama
‘waist’
L kpa‘debt’
bl‘pants’
kpakal
‘chair’
HL mbu‘owl’ ngIla‘dog’
felama ‘junction’
LH mba‘rice’ fande‘cotton’ ndavula ‘sling’
LHL mba‘companion’
nyaha‘woman’
n I k Il I
‘peanut’
Autosegmental phonology
(Goldsmith 1976)
Definition 1

A new type of phonological
representation was proposed, made
up of several simultaneous sequences
of segments linked by association lines.
------M.St./M.Phil. Phonology
course
Definition 2

Autosegmental phonology is a non-linear
approach to phonology that allows
phonological processes, such as tone and
vowel harmony, to be independent of and
extend beyond individual consonants and
vowels.
----Goldsmith, John A. 1975.
"Tone melodies and the autosegment."
one-to-one association

e.g. Mende

ng"la
HL
‘dog’
fande
L H
‘cotton’
many-to-one association

mba ‘rice’
‘companion’
L
H
mba
L
H
L
multiple linking

kpakal" ‘chair’
L
ndavula
H L
‘sling’
Goldsmith’s Universal Association
Convention
(UAC)



Match the tones and tone-bearing units
(TBUs) one to one, left to right.
Associate left-over TBUs with the last tone
and left-over tones with the last TBU.
No Crossing Constraint: association lines
do not cross.
Extensions of autosegmental
phonology
Nasality may be a property of whole words in
Desano, e.g.

[w a"] ‘name’
w a "
[wa"] ‘fish’
w a "
[+nasal]
[-nasal]
Autosegmental&CV phonology
Eg. Penny
C
p
V
C
V

Thank you!
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