LINGUIST List 3.434

Sat 23 May 1992

Disc: Tone

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dan Everett, Tone
  2. PETER GINGISS, Tone Languages

Message 1: Tone

Date: Fri, 22 May 92 18:57:43 -0Tone
From: Dan Everett <>
Subject: Tone

I appreciate John Goldsmith's concern that I might have been citing
him or referring to his work out of context. However, from the very first
time that I read his thesis, shortly after it was written, the following
quote puzzled me:
'The idea behind this thesis began with a reading of Will Leben's
thesis on suprasegmental phonology, in which he argued that in some
languages, even short vowels could bear two successive tones.


Now cf. Pike & Pike 1947:

`It will not do to attempt to correlate each vowel with one
and only one tone, or each tone with one and only one vowel...
In summary, the number of vowels is independent of the number
of tones, and the number of tones is independent of the
number of vowels, while the nucleus remains - within perceptual
limits - nearly constant.'

I do not think that Pike is necessarily the most important
theorist of his era, just that his work on tone was perhaps
the most relevant to autosegmental/multilinear phonology,
in light of quotes like the above. One wonders how much
sooner multilinear work would have been done had people
paid more attention to Pike and less to the model of tone
in SPE, which referred to such languages as 'exotic'.

One searches in vain in the early work on autosegmental
phonology for consideration of this type of work (although
Pike's and others' contributions are addressed in
the volume edited by V Fromkin, especially in the
article by S Anderson).

So, this is what I was referring to in my earlier posting.

Dan Everett
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Tone Languages

Date: Sat, 23 May 1992 10:25 CDTTone Languages
Subject: Tone Languages

For the record, around 1967 or so, Richard Spears of Northwestern was doing
generative work in tone in Maninka and Mende. Will Leben studied briefly with
him before doing his doctoral work. I have never seen Spears cited, probably
because the journals in African linguistics were obscure then and gone now.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue