[Lingtyp] Fwd: tone alone marking plural nouns?

Iker Salaberri ikersalaberri at gmail.com
Wed Sep 27 04:48:32 EDT 2017


I forward this message to Lingtyp so everyone can see it. Apologies for
multiple posting.

Iker Salaberri


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Iker Salaberri <ikersalaberri at gmail.com>
Date: 27 September 2017 at 10:44
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] tone alone marking plural nouns?
To: Mike Cahill <mike_cahill at sil.org>


Dear Mr. Cahill,

Regarding your question about non-African languages that mark the
singular/plural distinction solely by means of tone, perhaps the following
data can be useful to you:

One dialect of Basque, that spoken in the town of Goizueta (High Navarre,
in northern Spain), which belongs to the dialect group of High Navarrese
but is very distinct (due mostly to its use of tone, which is an archaic
feature inherited from older Basque), is notorious for marking the
singular/plural distinction solely by means of contour tone in some classes
of nouns. I myself am a native speaker of Standard Basque (which has no
tone distinctions) and have friends who speak the Goizueta dialect, and I'm
completely unable to tell the difference between singular and plural
(unless I infer from context and verb agreement) when I speak with them and
they use their dialect.

Unfortunately, hardly any literature in English exists on this topic, but
there are some things in Basque. I have taken the following examples from
Hualde & Lujanbio (2008: 379, which I attach) i.e. the paradigms for gizon
''man'' and mendi ''mountain'' (where ´ = rising tone, ` = falling tone):

         gizon ''man''                     mendi ''mountain''
ABS gizóna gizònak                 mendía mendìk
ERG gizónak gizònak               mendík mendìk
DAT gizónari gizònari               mendíri mendìri
COM gizónakin gizònakin        mendíkin mendìkin

Kind regards,

Iker Salaberri


On 26 September 2017 at 23:39, Mike Cahill <mike_cahill at sil.org> wrote:

> Hi all,
>
>
>
> Starting with some research on marking tone in African orthographies, I’ve
> come across 37 languages that mark the singular and plural distinction of
> at least some of their nouns solely by tone. Interestingly, in about 2/3 of
> these so far, the plural has some sort of higher tone than the singular.
>
>
>
> I’m looking for other examples of the same thing, particularly
> non-African. Wayne Leman sent me some Cheyenne examples. In Cheyenne, there
> seems no consistent pattern of either raising or lowering the tone of the
> plural – it’s all over the place.
>
>
>
> I’m hoping some of you know of other languages that do this kind of thing.
> Of course, I’m not averse to hearing about African languages – it may be
> quite possible you know of a language I don’t have on my list yet. Please
> copy me directly (mike_cahill at sil.org) as well as the list!
>
>
>
> Mike Cahill
>
>
>
> **************************************************************
>
> Dr. Michael Cahill
>
> Orthography Services Coordinator, SIL International
>
> 7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd.
>
> Dallas, TX 75236
>
> USA
>
> email: mike_cahill at sil.org
>
> phone: 972-708-7632 <(972)%20708-7632>
>
> **************************************************************
>
>
>
>
>
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>
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