The three way tonal system of Sylheti

Priti Raychoudhury, Shakuntala Mahanta


This study reports data collected and analyzed from 7 native speakers from a corpus of 70 Sylheti noun words. Our work shows that the loss of [+spread glottis] feature from [-voice] and [+voice] onsets have resulted in independent tone association patterns. The [-voice, +spread glottis] onset associated to a Low tone, as opposed to the tone association pattern of the voiced onsets [1]. We particularly looked into the tonal pattern of Sylheti which arose from the merger of underlying [+spread glottis] and [-spread glottis] contrast between voiceless obstruents. We built linear mixed effect models of f0 and duration to examine the acoustic factors affecting tone. We found that disyllables trigger a three way tonal contrast depending on the underlying features and positions of voiceless onsets in Sylheti. The study shows that the tone of the syllable spreads throughout the word rather than the syllable of origin. Word is thus reclaimed to be the TBU in Sylheti. The Mean f0 for the intercept was about 274.345 Hz which represented the High tone. It differed from the Low tone by about 75 Hz, and the Mid tone by about 25 Hz. Tone affected pitch by (χ2 (1) = 927.07, p < 0.0001).


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-103

Cite as: Raychoudhury, P., Mahanta, S. (2020) The three way tonal system of Sylheti. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 503-507, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-103.


@inproceedings{Raychoudhury2020,
  author={Priti Raychoudhury and Shakuntala Mahanta},
  title={{The three way tonal system of Sylheti}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={503--507},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-103},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-103}
}