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Academic Paper


Title: On the Representation of Tone in Alaska Athabaskan Practical Orthographies
Author: Gary Holton
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://go.alaska.edu/gmholton
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Linguistic Field: Phonology; Writing Systems
Subject Language Family: Athapascan-Eyak-Tlingit
Abstract: This paper examines current and past approaches to representing tone in Alaska Athabaskan orthographies. Representation of tone in Alaska Athabaskan languages is complicated by two structural factors: the relatively low functional load of tone; and the phonological abstractness of the tone systems. A survey of existing orthographies reveals that literacy rates are not necessarily improved by shallower marking of surface pitch distinctions. Several factors are shown to complicate the teaching and acquisition of literacy in shallow tone orthographies. The usefulness of tone marking is evaluated in light of both the phonological and experiential evidence. In many instances, shallow tone marking has served as a barrier to literacy, thus the related goals of literacy and language maintenance may be better served by deeper tone orthographies.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Venue: Athabascan Languages Conference


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