Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Morphotonology for TTS in Niger-Congo languages

Dafydd Gibbon (1), Eno-Abasi Urua (2)

(1) Universitšt Bielefeld, Germany
(2) University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

It is well-known that many East Asian languages have lexical (i.e. phonemic) prosody, and languages such as Mandarin are very well described. African languages are also frequently mentioned in the literature as tone languages, and phonetic interface patterns such as downstep are well-documented. It is less well-known that the functionality of tone patterning in African tone languages is fundamentally morphosyntactic rather than phonemic, in that (a) tonal patterning is specific to particular parts of speech, (b) tones may have inflectional function and play a role in both (c) derivational and (d) compounding word formation patterns and (e) in marking syntactic phrasal templates. The aim of this paper is both to document the morphosyntactic functionality of tones in African languages within a typological context as compared to East Asian tone languages such as Mandarin, and to develop finite state architectures for tone handling in practical Text-To-Speech synthesis in health and agriculture information projects in Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Morphosyntactic tonal functionality is illustrated for Ibibio (Lower Cross Niger-Congo, South-Eastern Nigeria), but also applies to other Western and Central African languages.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Gibbon, Dafydd / Urua, Eno-Abasi (2006): "Morphotonology for TTS in Niger-congo languages", In SP-2006, paper 230.