06 Mar 2001
Lexical tone in Ma`ya and Matbat
Ma`ya and Matbat are two small Austronesian languages (approx. 4000 and 1000 speakers, respectively). They are spoken in the Raja Ampat archipelago, off the west coast of New Guinea. Both of these languages feature a lexical tone system, and in this talk I present the results of acoustic studies on these tone systems.
Matbat features five lexically contrastive tonemes. While lexical tone in se is rare in the Austronesian family, such a complex tone system has only been reported for Utsat, an Austronesian language adjacent to a Chinese language (Maddieson and Pang 1993). I claim that, like Utsat, Matbat (and also Ma`ya) have developed lexical tone under the influence of non-Austronesian tone languages.
Ma`ya features three lexically contrastive tones. I will present the results of a study into variation between the tone systems of three dialects of of this language. Interesting results include a push-chain change in tonal realization in one dialect, and an unusual boundary tone in another. Another interesting phenomenon of Ma`ya word prosody is that, next to tone, it features lexically contrastive stress (Remijsen [under review]). If time allows, I will discuss this as well.
The word-prosodic systems of Matbat and Ma`ya are introduced here.