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The Range and Diversity of Vocalic Systems in Asian Languages

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Title:The Range and Diversity of Vocalic Systems in Asian Languages
Authors:Reid, Lawrence A.
LC Subject Headings:Austroasiatic languages
Hmong language
Austronesian languages
Sino-Tibetan languages
Date Issued:2003
Citation:Reid, Lawrence. "The Range and Diversity of Vocalic Systems in Asian Languages." In A Search in Asia for a New Theory of Music (Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of the Asia-Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology), edited by Jose S. Buenconsejo, 249-270. Manila: University of the Philippines Center for Ethnomusicology, 2003.
Abstract:The purpose of this paper is first to present a general overview of the language families of Asia and what is presently commonly accepted as the relationships between these families. The second part of the paper will be concerned with examining the nature of the vocalic systems commonly found in these languages, with a focus on providing an explanation for the two major types of systems that are found, and the phonological devices that languages exploit to maintain and strengthen the patterns that have developed. It will be shown that the major correlate of these differences is primarily a difference in the rhythmic structure of the two language types, on the one hand requiring accent to fall on alternate, evenly timed syllables with relatively simple vocalisms, and on the other requiring accent to fall on sequential complex monosyllables, beginning in some languages with consonants from an inventory of as many as 40-50 different distinct phonemes and followed by one of 50 or more vocalic types. These two accent types, sometimes referred to as syllable- timed and stress-timed have their origins in the underlying internal metronome that governs much of human activity, including the way we speak and the way we organize our music, and thus provide a crucial link between languages and a new theory of music based on the distinctive musical traditions of Asia.
Pages/Duration:28 pages
Appears in Collections: Lawrence A. Reid: Articles, Monographs, Book Chapters

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