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Wa Ñi Tones
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Hàkete wè y Wa Ñi
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 2 Dec 2016, 22:55.

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Menu 1. Introduction 2. Summary 3. Tones 4. Sandhi 5. Complex Sandhi
[edit] [top]Introduction

This is an article about the tones (hàkete) of the  Wa Ñi language. Although there are only two phonemic tones, the ways in which they are realized are very complex. Additionally, the tones play a central part in Wa Ñi morphology, which is covered in the Wa Ñi grammar article.

Rather than presenting a formal linguistic analysis, I'll try to take a more informal and concise approach here that makes it as straightforward as possible.

As a side note, traditionally in Wa Ñi studies the tones are considered to be a different aspect of the language from the rest of phonology, and from morphology, syntax, etc. Whatever the case, I think the tones deserve their own article, and so voilà.

[edit] [top]Summary

The tones may be described as high and low, with high unmarked and low marked. This is reflected in the orthography, where only low tone is marked, with the grave accent, as in <à>.

The tones are realized in different ways, depending on what other tones they are surrounded by. Sometimes, the distinctions between the tones may be lost on the surface level, even though the underlying tones are still distinct.

Below is a 'cheatsheet' with the main tonal patterns for easy reference.

PatternRealizationConditionsSpecial CasesExceptions
HLhigh falling / lowwithin a phraseapplies to floating tone morphemes like yideophones
LHmid / high risingwithin a word, no consonants separating vowels, not at end of phrasenoneoften applies across glottal consonants
HH#high / midwithin a phrasecan occur phrase-internally as well in long sequences of H tonesnone
LH#low / lowwithin a wordnoneideophones
#Hmidwithin a phrasenoneinterjections, ideophones

The low tone is realized as just that, a low tone, in almost all cases, which in contrast with the variation in the high tone, provides evidence that it is the marked one. However, it is sometimes realized as a mid tone.

The high tone may be realized as high, high falling, low, high rising, or mid. This provides evidence that it is the unmarked, or default, tone.

[edit] [top]Sandhi

The main patterns are:

  • HL - becomes high falling / low (applies at all levels within a phrase)
  • LH - becomes mid / high rising (within word, no intervening consonants, not at end of phrase)
  • HH# - becomes high / mid (applies at all levels within a phrase)
  • LH# - becomes low / low (within word)
  • #H - becomes mid (applies within phrase)

where # indicates a phrase boundary (like the beginning or end of a phrase)

[edit] [top]Complex Sandhi

Often, when a word or affix has multiple forms containing different numbers of syllables, the tonal pattern of the shorter forms will underlyingly be the same as the longer one.

For example, we have the word 'ALAlienable (possession)
thing that can be gained or lost
.POSSPossessive (case)
owns, has
', which also has the allomorph y. However, there is a 'floating tone' attached to the y which makes a preceding high tone take the falling form.

hàkete y Wa Ñi

/hàkǝ́tǝ̂ j wá ɲī/

GXGender 10 (gender/class).tone ALAlienable (possession)
thing that can be gained or lost
.POSSPossessive (case)
owns, has

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