The features and geometry of tone in Laal
Florian Lionnet
December 2022

Features are standard in segmental analysis but have been less successfully applied to tone. Subtonal features have even been argued to be less satisfactory for the representation of African tone than tonal primitives (e.g. H, M, L; Hyman 2010; Clements et al. 2010). I argue that Yip (1980) and Pulleyblank’s (1986) two-feature system offers a straightforward account of the tonology of Laal, an endangered, three-tone isolate of southern Chad - in particular properties of the Mid tone that are otherwise difficult to account for, namely the avoidance of complex patterns involving M, and a pervasive M-to-L lowering process, both straightforwardly analyzed as subtonal assimilation. Other tonal operations in Laal are shown to involve full-tone behavior, justifying a tone geometry à la Snider (1999, 2020) where subtonal features are linked to a Tonal Root Node, giving tones the ability to be either fully or partially active, just like segments.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006820
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: accepted in Phonology
keywords: tone, tonal features, laal, grammatical tone, tonal morphology, phonology
previous versions: v1 [September 2022]
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