We are happy to announce the next talk by Nicholas Rolle (Leibniz ZAS, Berlin) in the Phonology Colloquium.
Title: Towards a typology of prosody-segment interaction: The case of tone-driven epenthesis
Date: Wednesday, 22.06.2022
Location: IG 4.301 in person, if necessary with additional Zoom
If you want to participate via Zoom, please register via email to Alina Gregori: firstname.lastname@example.org
This talk presents on an oft-neglected topic in phonological typology: the interaction between segments and prosody (e.g. pitch/tone/intonation/etc.). Some prosody-segment interactions are commonly found (e.g. tone lowering with depressor consonants) and others are known to be quite rare (e.g. tone height dependent on vowel height), but in general its empirical landscape has not been firmly established. This talk argues that we must add to this typology a novel process we call ‘tone-driven epenthesis’, defined as the phonological insertion of a vowel in order to host a tone (e.g. a high pitch target). We show evidence for tone-driven epenthesis in two African languages Wamey (Tenda, Niger-Congo: Senegal) and Ghomala’ (Bantoid, Niger-Congo: Cameroon), supported by phonotactic patterns in their lexicons as well as morpho-phonological alternations. In both languages, a rising tone on a closed syllable conditions a final epenthetic vowel (e.g. Ghomala’ /ɡɔ̌p/ ‘hen’, realized as either [ɡɔ̌p] or [ɡɔ̀pə́]), a process not found in any other tonal context. We highlight that although the motivation for this process is quite common (i.e. avoiding a rising tone on a suboptimal host), such an epenthesis repair is extremely rare cross-linguistically. We conclude this talk by proposing a (partial) explanation for its rarity: the relatively low functional load of tone in tone systems.