Laryngeal contrast and tone in Tamang: A preliminary study

Hwang, Hyun Kyung; Lee, Seunghun Julio; Grollmann, Selin; Gerber, Pascal (15 September 2018). Laryngeal contrast and tone in Tamang: A preliminary study (Unpublished). In: The Thirty-Second General Meeting of the Phonetic Society of Japan. Okinawa International University. 15. - 16.09.2018.

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Tamang is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken mainly in Nepal. There are conflicting claims
regarding laryngeal/tonal contrast of Tamang stops. This study focuses on the phonetic realization of
stops, and investigates the laryngeal contrast of this relatively understudied language, especially
considering lexical tones.
Following the phonetic and phonological descriptions of Tamang by Mazaudon (1973), Tamang
has been described as a language with contrastive tones. Mazaudon describes that Tamang has four
tones with distinctions in pitch and voice quality: Tone 1 (high falling pitch) and Tone 2 (high level)
have modal whereas Tone 3 (low level) and Tone 4 (low-rising) have breathy phonation. Further, she
claims that aspiration contrast is observed only in Tone 1 and 2 words, and Tone 3 and 4 can be
voiced (Mazaudon 2014). Varenkamp (to appear, cited in Sung-Woo Lee 2011), on the other hand,
reports there are no phonemically voiced stops as none of Tamang stops are acoustically voiced. On
the contrary, Yonjan (1993) argues there is a 3-way contrast of aspirated/unaspirated/voiced stops
without assuming phonological tones.
Four female speakers of Eastern Tamang participated in the recording. Seven stop-initial
monosyllabic words were recorded 5 times in random order. Voice onset time (VOT) of the stops and
f0 of the following vowels were measured. The results show that VOT values clearly separate the
stops into three groups; long positive VOT, short positive VOT, and negative VOT, supporting the
three categories of stop contrast argued by Yonjan (1993). Interestingly, f0 movements of the three
categories do not exhibit significant differences. The lack of difference in f0 suggests that the tonal
distinction reported by Mazaudon (1973, 2014) may not be present, at least in the dialects we
recorded. Still, it is not clear if this is a dialectal difference or a tone loss, which requires further
studies.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics > Comparative Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Grollmann, Selin and Gerber, Pascal

Subjects:

400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages

Funders:

[42] Schweizerischer Nationalfonds

Language:

English

Submitter:

Selin Grollmann

Date Deposited:

10 Aug 2020 10:34

Last Modified:

10 Aug 2020 10:35

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/120849

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