Reduction in Dali Nisu tone change-in-progress

Wenjing Yang, Cathryn Yang


In this paper, reduction as a key mechanism in diachronic tone change is illustrated through an apparent-time study of tone changes-in-progress in Dali Nisu, a Tibeto-Burman minority language spoken in southwest China. 26 native speakers of Dali Nisu (11 female, 15 male) participate in a tonal production experiment. Linear mixed effects modelling results show that three reduction changes are in progress: 1) high level tone lowering, 2) low rising tone flattening, and 3) low falling tone flattening. As a result of (1) and (3), overall tonal range is decreasing. Voicing of syllable-initial consonants interact with the reduction changes: the magnitude of the reduction effect seen among younger, more educated speakers depends on voicing of the initial consonant. This case study provides a snapshot of tone change-in-progress, showing that tonal reduction is an important mechanism shaping tone change in syllable-tone languages.


 DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-10

Cite as: Yang, W., Yang, C. (2018) Reduction in Dali Nisu tone change-in-progress. Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, 46-50, DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-10.


@inproceedings{Yang2018,
  author={ Wenjing Yang and Cathryn Yang},
  title={ Reduction in Dali Nisu tone change-in-progress},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages},
  pages={46--50},
  doi={10.21437/TAL.2018-10},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2018-10}
}