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Reconsidering the Diachrony of Tone in Rma

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Title:Reconsidering the Diachrony of Tone in Rma
Authors:Sims, Nathaniel A.
Trans-Himalayan (Sino-Tibetan)
show 1 morehistorical linguistics
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Date Issued:27 Jan 2020
Abstract:Prior work has suggested that proto-Rma was a non-tonal language and that tonal varieties underwent tonogenesis (Liú 1998, Evans 2001a-b). This paper re-examines the different arguments for the tonogenesis hypothesis and puts forward subgroup-internal and subgroup-external evidence for an alternative scenario in which tone, or its phonetic precursors, was present at the stage of proto-Rma. The subgroup-internal evidence comes from regular correspondences between tonal varieties. These data allow us to put forward a working hypothesis that proto-Rma had a two-way tonal contrast. Furthermore, existing accounts of how tonogenesis occurred in the tonal varieties are shown to be problematic. The subgroup-external evidence comes from regular tonal correspondences to two closely related tonal Trans-Himalayan subgroups: Prinmi, a modern language, and Tangut, a mediaeval language attested by written records from the 11th – 16th century. Regular correspondences among the tonal categories of these three subgroups, combined with the Rma-internal evidence allow us to more confidently reconstruct tone for proto-Rma.
Pages/Duration:33 pages
Journal:Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society
Appears in Collections: A. Research Papers (Peer-Reviewed)

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