From: Marc van Oostendorp <Marc.van.OostendorpMeertens.knaw.nl>
Subject: Segments and Tone
Segments and Tone
Date: 07-Jun-2007 - 08-Jun-2007
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contact: Marc van Oostendorp
Contact Email: MarcvanOostendorp.nl
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics; Phonology
'Segments and tone' is a two-day workshop on the relations between
segmental structure and tonal phenomena, both from a synchronic and from a
diachronic, and both from a phonetic and from a phonological perspective.
Tone features are commonly assigned to prosodic levels such as moras or
syllables to account for their autosegmental behavior (in spreading, for
instance). But this does not bar them from interacting with segmental properties
of at least three types:
- laryngeal features: prevocalic voiced consonants may induce a low tone or
block a high tone, postvocalic glottalization/aspiration may induce rising or
- sonority: tones may only occur on consonants that are sufficiently sonorous;
- vowel height: high vowels have a phonetic preference for higher tone.
These phenomena still raise many theoretical and empirical questions, for
instance: Why is the phonetic effect of vowel height on fundamental frequency
(almost?) never phonologized even though it is at least as large as that of
obstruent voicing, which does give rise to tone contrasts? What is the reason
for the asymmetrical influence of laryngeal configurations on tone (pre- vs.
postvocalic)? Do segmental and tonal features interact directly or rather
indirectly, mediated by syllable and/or foot structure (as claimed for the
interaction between vowel height and tone in Fuzhou, for instance) or other
prosodic properties (e.g., register distinctions as a medial diachronic step
between the loss of obstruent voicing and tonogenesis in many Southeast Asian
languages)? Finally, how do we deal with exceptions to the tendencies mentioned
above, e.g. languages like U (Mon-Khmer) or Central and Low Franconian
(Germanic), in which vowel height and postvocalic voicing distinctions do play a
role in tonogenesis?
The research project Tone and Intrasegmental Structure in Franconian Dialects,
sponsored by the Dutch Science Foundation NWO, studies the synchronic and
diachronic phonetic and phonological factors which contribute to our
understanding of the ontogenesis and present distribution of tone in the group
of West Germanic dialects known as Franconian.
All the relevant factors can probably found in other languages as well. For this
reason, the present workshop brings together members of the project with
researchers working on a large variety of other languages.
The research is conducted by Paul Boersma, Ben Hermans, Wolfgang Kehrein, Björn
Köhnlein, Marc van Oostendorp and Maike Prehn, at the Institute for Phonetic
Sciences of the University of Amsterdam and the Meertens Institute of the Royal
Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam.
There will be no fee for participation in this event. Participants should buy
their own lunch and dinner, however. Lunch can be bought at the Meertens
Instituut, the location of the conference. We are planning to organize a dinner
somewhere in Amsterdam on Thursday for everybody who is interested.
More information can be found at our website:
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