27 Feb 2007
The tone system of the Luanyjang dialect of Dinka
This talk is based on a paper co-authored with Bob Ladd. We present a descriptive analysis of tone in the Luanyjang variety of Dinka, a Nilotic language spoken in Southern Sudan. We show that Luanyjang Dinka has four tonemes, High (H), Low (L), Rising (LH) and Falling (HL). We also describe how underlying tone sequences are often substantially modified in utterances by a number of context-sensitive phonological processes such as dissimilatory lowering of High tones. Given our standard autosegmental description, the phonological categories and processes we posit are broadly familiar from other African languages. However, our analysis requires a typologically less usual understanding of the surface phonetic categories of tone (in particular, what we call ?Low? tone is realized under some conditions as a fairly steep fall) and of the relation between the tonal phonology and the quantity system (in particular, we show that each morpheme is underlyingly associated with one and only one toneme, regardless of vowel length). We therefore present a range of acoustic data in support of the basic phonological description.