[Lingtyp] tone alone marking plural nouns?

Gussenhoven, C.H.M. (Carlos) c.gussenhoven at let.ru.nl
Wed Sep 27 08:01:34 UTC 2017

Dear Mike, 

To follow up on Ilja's message, perhaps Bernard Waelchli has the information on Latvian:

A reversed tone value for the number suffix occurs an Occitan dialect where word-final [s] was debuccalized to [h].  The low pitch associated with breathy voice led to the development of a L-tone suffix for the plural forms with simultaneous loss of [h], so that L-tone plurals contrasts with H-toned singulars.
Sauzet, P. (2012). Los morf`emas de plural nominal a Sant Julian de Cremsa [-w]
e lo ton bas. Actes  du  9e  Congr`es  de  l’Association  Internationale  d’Etudes Occitanes, 827–84 2012.

In almost all the Central Franconian and Limburgish dialects with tone there are non-productive sets of sg-pl pairs where the sg has high tone in the singular declarative and falling in plural, like Roemond kíín vs kníìn rabbit - rabbits. Eg Ben Hermans' work on Maasbracht Limburgian or my The lexical tone contrast of Roermond Dutch in Optimality Theory.  In M. Horne (Ed.), Intonation:  Theory and Experiment.  Amsterdam:  Kluwer.  129-167.  Also ROA-382.(2000)

All best,
From: Lingtyp [lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] on behalf of Ilja Seržant [ilja.serzants at uni-leipzig.de]
Sent: Wednesday, 27 September, 2017 9:36:13 AM
To: Mike Cahill
Cc: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] tone alone marking plural nouns?

Dear Mike,

some time ago I was interested in the tonal system of the Curonian
Latvian dialect which drastically loses the final syllable vowels but
compensate for that loss by the change in the root tone. I have the
following examples from a description from 50ies (the places are Laizde
and Stende; I am not sure the tones still survived until today):

pūrs 'dowry.nom.sg' (so-called lengthened tone which is neither falling
nor rising but the vowel is longer than other long vowels) vs. pūrs
'dowry.acc.pl' with the so-called lengthened-falling tone (I have argued
that the falling component stems historically from the loss of the vowel
in accusative ending: pūrus > pūrs)

dêls 'son.nom.sg' (so-called broken tone, i.e. with a short
interruption) vs. dê'ls 'son.acc.pl' (broken-falling tone) which equally
probably stems from the re-assignment of the floating tone arisen by the
loss of the second vowel of the accusative ending.

Unfortunately, I wrote that paper in Latvian (p. 107):

It is of course not just the number but also the case that is marked by
this new toneme. However, I thought you might be interested because one
usually would not expect something of this sort to be found in Europe.


On 27/09/2017 05:31, Hilary Chappell wrote:
> Tone sandhi to code plurality is possible in a variety of Sinitic
> languages including the Xiang group (Hunan) and Pinghua (Guangxi) but
> for the person pronominal systems only .
> It does not extend to nouns.
> Let me know if you would like some examples of this;
> Sincerely,
> Hilary Chappell
> 2017-09-27 5:39 UTC+08:00, Mike Cahill <mike_cahill at sil.org>:
>> 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 mina
>> 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
>> **************************************************************

Ilja A. Seržant, postdoc
Project "Grammatical Universals"
Universität Leipzig (IPF 141199)
Nikolaistraße 6-10
04109 Leipzig

URL: http://home.uni-leipzig.de/serzant/

Tel.: + 49 341 97 37713
Room 5.22

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