Tones are not abstract autosegmentals

Author(s): Fang Hu


This paper renewed the representation problem of tone in phonology theory. Accumulating evidence from phonetic researches shows that tones are not abstract autosegmentals. In contrast, stable temporal structures are found regarding tonal alignments to segmental productions. That is, tone gesture is coupled with consonant and vowel gestures in syllable production. This paper described new evidence from Lhasa Tibetan, which is a well-known language of emergent tones or tonogenesis. Discussion covers such tonal languages as Wu Chinese dialects, known for its tonal spreading phenomenon that motivates the autosegmental nature of tones.