How to Develop a Tone System?

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Mugitus
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How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by Mugitus » 17 Aug 2014 22:12

I've been playing around with making an African-like lang this afternoon, and decided to try to give it a three tone system. Initially I began assigning every word a random tone value, but then I began to think, how could I develop this through sound changes? Any links or help would be greatly appreciated :)
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Creyeditor
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Re: How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by Creyeditor » 18 Aug 2014 00:21

The historical development of a tone system is called tonogenesis. I used to have a pdf about this topic, but I somehow lost it [:(]
IIRC, a voiced sound preceding a vowel is likely to cause a low tone. An aspirated stop in this position can cause high tone.
A glottal stop that appears after a vowel can cause a high tone, a fricative in this position causes a low tone.
All this effects do only appear, if the contrast is neutralized, i.e. no voicing/aspiration distinction in pre-vowel consonants in the first two examples, or post-vowel consonants are deleted in the other cases.
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Click
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Re: How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by Click » 18 Aug 2014 14:47

Wikipedia provides a good overview on the basics of tonogenesis.
[b]Wikipedia[/b] wrote:In general, voiced initial consonants lead to low tones, while vowels after aspirated consonants acquire a high tone. When final consonants are lost, a glottal stop tends to leave a preceding vowel with a high or rising tone (although glottalized vowels tend to be low tone, so if the glottal stop causes vowel glottalization, that will tend to leave behind a low vowel), whereas a final fricative tends to leave a preceding vowel with a low or falling tone. Vowel phonation also frequently develops into tone, as can be seen in the case of Burmese.
High tone can also evolve from stress, and vowel length can influence tonogenesis as well. An example of this is Cheyenne where Proto-Algonquian long vowels contracted into vowels carrying a high tone, while the short vowels acquired low tone.

Analysing long vowels as sequences of two identical vowels, these tone developments could occur:
  • ˈV → V˥
    ˈVV → V˥˩
    VˈV → V˩˥
I’ve used this strategy to derive tones in my Azatri, where rising and falling tones further evolved to high and low ones.

Tone may also relocate to stressed syllables, perhaps reversing its quality in the process, e.g. ˈVCV˩ → ˈV˥CV. Although it isn’t a natural language, Reĥta has a very interesting and well-thought out tonogenesis which includes this kind of tone relocation, and the sound changes are all plausible.

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DesEsseintes
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Re: How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by DesEsseintes » 20 Aug 2014 12:51

Click wrote:I’ve used this strategy to derive tones in my Azatri, where rising and falling tones further evolved to high and low ones.

That's interesting: I would have done the opposite, i.e. have the rising tone develop into low tone, and the falling tone develop into high tone. That is probably because of my exposure to tonal sandhi in Minnan where falling tone becomes high and rising tone becomes low in non-final position.

Of course, this is purely a matter of taste. [:)]

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thaen
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Re: How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by thaen » 21 Aug 2014 00:27

So, would this be a plausible tonogenisis?

Old to Middle

pV > pV˩˥
tV > tV˩˥
kV > KV˩˥

Vs > V˥˩s
Vx > V˥˩x
Vh > V˥˩h

Middle to New

V˩˥ > V˥
V˥˩ > V˩
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Click
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Re: How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by Click » 21 Aug 2014 09:44

It would if your voiceless stops have been aspirated, but however tone still isn’t phonetic by time the tonogenesis ends.

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thaen
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Re: How to Develop a Tone System?

Post by thaen » 21 Aug 2014 17:48

Click wrote:It would if your voiceless stops have been aspirated, but however tone still isn’t phonetic by time the tonogenesis ends.
What if they were allophonically aspirated?

When does torn become phonetic?
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