The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

Evidence for Contrastive Tonal Alignment in Shilluk

Bert Remijsen, Otto Gwado Ayoker

University of Edinburgh, UK

It is widely assumed that tonal alignment is not contrastive in contour tones [1,2,3]. Contrary to this consensus, [4] recently presented evidence of contrastive alignment in falling contours in Dinka. The current study contributes to this area of investigation through an acoustic analysis of the relevant part of the tone system of another language: Shilluk. The dataset is built around the tonal contrast of Low vs. Early-aligned High Fall vs. Late-aligned High Fall vs. High. The descriptive statistics resulting from this study are in line with the hypothesis that tonal alignment can indeed be contrastive in falling contour tones.


  1. Hyman, L. M. (1988). Syllable structure constraints on tonal contours. Linguistique Africaine 1, 49-60.
  2. Odden, D. (1995). Tone: African languages. In J.A. Goldsmith (ed.) The Handbook of Phonological Theory. Blackwell, 444-475.
  3. Yip, M. (2002). Tone. CUP.
  4. Remijsen, B. (2013). Tonal alignment is contrastive in falling contours in Dinka. Language 89, 297-327.

Index Terms: tone, tonal alignment, contour tones, Shilluk

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Remijsen, Bert / Ayoker, Otto Gwado (2014): "Evidence for contrastive tonal alignment in Shilluk", In TAL-2014, 6-9.