Accent and tone: the double origin of the Paicî prosodic system
Florian Lionnet
April 2024

What happens when an accentual language develops a tonal contrast from laryngeal features: is the accent system kept alongside the new tone contrast? Is it lost? Do both prosodic systems merge? In this paper, I present the tone system of Paicî, which illustrates the latter outcome. Paicî seems to possess two integrated prosodic subsystems: a purely tonal H vs. L contrast, and a typologically unusual downstep with accentual properties. Building on Rivierre (1978), I show that a comparison with neighboring Xârâcùù, where accent is marked by a similar downstep, explains this apparently mixed system: the H/L tonal contrast emerged through tonogenesis in an already accentual language, where accent was marked by a downstep just like in Xârâcùù. This caused the former downstep to be reinterpreted as tonal. The Paicî case is interesting for the study of the interactions between accent and tone, both in synchrony and in diachrony.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008033
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Under review
keywords: accent; tone; downstep; word prosodic typology; tonogenesis; paicî; xârâcùù; oceanic; new caledonian languages, phonology
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