The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

Segmental Effects on Tone: An Acoustic Analysis of Tonal Polarity in Xitsonga

Seunghun J. Lee (1), Siri M. Gjersøe (2)

(1) Central Connecticut State University, USA
(2) Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

Xitsonga nouns have plural prefixes that are added to a singular prefix-less root. These added prefixes (ADD) are described as being realized with a tone polar to the root vowel (RV): when RV is high (H) ADD is low (L), but when RV is L, ADD is H. Based on qualitative observations, Lee formally analyzes tonal polarity in a constraint-based framework. This paper presents results from quantitative analyses of two speakers (male and female) and shows that tonal polarity in Xitsonga is asymmetrical. First, only H-toned roots are preceded by the ADD prefix with a polar tone. Second, the ADD prefix before toneless roots has a surface L tone. Any large F0 difference in the latter case can be explained by segmental effects on pitch, such as depressor consonants and vowel height. The new findings are formalized by proposing that the specific OCP-H constraint outranks the general OCP constraint.

Index Terms: Tonal polarity, Xitsonga, noun class prefixes, OCP, depressor consonants

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lee, Seunghun J. / Gjersøe, Siri M. (2014): "Segmental effects on tone: an acoustic analysis of tonal polarity in Xitsonga", In TAL-2014, 79-82.