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Parsing Grammatical Tone Using FLEx

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Title: Parsing Grammatical Tone Using FLEx
Authors: Lau, Jonas
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2017
Description: In many languages, tone is a principle strategy to mark grammatical categories and syntactic relations. Including a suitable annotation of grammatical tone in the documentation and description of a language is therefore essential. In standardized glossing formats such as Interlinear Morphemic Glossing (IMG) (Lehmann 1982; Lehmann 2004) and the Leipzig Glossing Rules (Comrie, Haspelmath & Bickel 1982) it is impossible to separate segmental from suprasegmental material in order to gloss them individually. Other formats like Advanced Glossing (Drude & Lieb 2000) are simply too time- consuming and inconvenient to use in publications. McGill (2007) highlights these deficiencies and proposes the four-tier annotation (example 1) that has been used in Toolbox (SIL International 1987) as a method to separately gloss the segmental and suprasegmental material. Its application in Toolbox enables automated glossing. While the theory of annotation and interlinear glossing develops, its adaptation to modern technologies that automate the glossing has to be constantly renewed. New software like the FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx) (SIL International 2001) facilitates glossing of texts and has become an essential tool for linguistic fieldwork and language description. Its ability to parse grammatical tone, however, is not always obvious and often complicates work for fieldworkers who work on tonal languages. This paper draws on McGill’s (2007) implementation in Toolbox and proposes a method to parse grammatical tone using FLEx after exploring the representation of grammatical tone in linguistic theory, annotation and orthography. It discusses FLEx’s limits regarding grammatical tone and suggests best practice guidelines that aim to facilitate grammatical tone parsing. The proposed method in combination with the guidelines enable fieldworkers to easily create annotations for documentary corpora by using FLEx for automated glossing of tone languages. To exemplify and test the methods of parsing, negation patterns in Ikaan, which heavily rely on grammatical tone, will be used. Ikaan is a minority language of the Benue-Congo language family spoken in Southern Nigeria. The primary data is drawn from the corpus of Sophie Salffner’s research in Nigeria deposited in the Endangered Languages Archive (Salffner 2010). References Comrie, Bernard, Martin Haspelmath & Balthasar Bickel. 1982. The Leipzig Glossing Rules. Folia Linguistica. 1–10. Drude, Sebastian & Hans-Heinrich Lieb. 2000. Advanced Glossing: A language documentation format. (1 June, 2016). Lehmann, Christian. 1982. Directions for Interlinear Morphemic Translations. Folia Linguistica (Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae) XVI. 199–224. Lehmann, Christian. 2004. Interlinear morphemic glossing. In Geert Booij, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan & Stavos Skopeteas (eds.), Morphologie. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung. 2. Halbband, 1834–1857. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. McGill, Stuart. 2007. Documenting grammatical tone using Toolbox: an evaluation of Buseman’s interlinearisation technique. In Peter K Austin, Oliver Bond & David Nathan (eds.), Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory, 177–186. London: SOAS. Salffner, Sophie. 2010. Ikaan and related dialects of Ukaan: an archive of language and cultural material from the Akaan people of Ikakumo (Ondo State, Nigeria). SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. (26 July, 2016). SIL International. 1987. Shoebox/Toolbox (Software). http://www- (20 August, 2016). SIL International. 2001. FieldWorks Language Explorer (Software). (20 August, 2016).
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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