Nominal Modification

The Research Training Group on Nominal Modification at the Goethe University Frankfurt

Home » Minicourse: Larry Hyman on Tone systems and grammatical tone in African languages

Minicourse: Larry Hyman on Tone systems and grammatical tone in African languages

Date: June 1, 2018


June 14, 2018 -
June 15, 2018

We are happy to announce that Professor Larry Hyman (University of California in Berkeley) will be giving a mini-course in two sessions on June 14th and 15th (2-4pm). See below for details!

Place & time:

Thursday, June 14, 2-4: SP 1.01

Friday, June 15, 2-4: SH 1.109


Class 1: Tone Systems: An overview


In this first class, I begin by asking the question “What is tone?” and then, I survey some the major variations found across tone systems in the the world’s languages. This will include typological distinctions concerning lexical vs. grammatical tone, paradigmatic vs. syntagmatic properties of tone, the relative independence of tonal features, and the tone-bearing unit. After considering differences in tonal inventories (number of pitch heights, contour tones, downstep, floating tones, and tonal underspecification), I will survey common tonal processes: “vertical” raising and lowering of tones, “horizontal” tone spreading, contour simplification, dissimilation, and polarity. I then turn to consider grammatical tone: tonal morphemes, replacive tone, derivational vs. inflectional tone, compounding, phrase level alternations conditions by grammar. A major point I will make is tone is capable of greater syntagmatic and long-distance phenomena than any other phonological property.


Class 2: Grammatical Tone in African Languages


Following up the discussion and phenomena presented in the first class, I will more specifically address how tone is implicated in the morphology and syntax in African languages. At the word level this includes modifications both on nouns, e.g. concerning number, definiteness, and even case, as well as on verbs, e.g. concerning tense, aspect, mood, and negation. Focus will be on the interaction between potentially conflicting factors which determine the various realizations in nominal and verbal paradigms as well as long-distance phrasal effects.