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On Establishing Underlying Tonal Contrast

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Title: On Establishing Underlying Tonal Contrast
Authors: Snider, Keith
Issue Date: Dec 2014
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Snider, Keith. 2014. On Establishing Underlying Tonal Contrast. Language Documentation & Conservation 8: 707—737
Abstract: Phonological field work is largely about establishing contrast in comparable environments.
The notion of phonological contrast, however, can be confusing, particularly in its application to tone analysis. Does it mean phonemic contrast in the structuralist sense, or
does it mean underlying contrast in the generative sense? Many linguists, in publications
otherwise written from a generative perspective, support underlying tonal contrasts with
minimal pairs and other data that are based on structuralist criteria. This paper critiques
how tonal contrast is often supported in the literature and demonstrates that many supposed minimal pairs are invalid from a generative perspective. It further demonstrates that
because many morphemes in tone languages consist solely of floating tones, the potential
for these cannot be ignored when establishing comparable phonological environments.
*This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
Sponsor: National Foreign Language Resource Center
ISBN: 978-0-9856211-2-4
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
Appears in Collections:Volume 08 : Language Documentation & Conservation

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