The interaction of polar question and declarative intonation with lexical tone in Moro

Author(s): Younah Chung, Page Piccinini and Sharon Rose


This paper examines tone-intonation interactions in the Thetogovela dialect of Moro in declarative assertive statements and polar questions. Polar questions may have an optional final question particle. Moro has high and low lexical tones. We predicted that tone realizations would differ between declarative statements and polar questions due to the intonation system. To test this prediction, two male speakers produced subject-verb-object sentences with target objects of varying tonal patterns in a carrier phrase, as either declaratives or polar questions. Speakers maintained a difference between high and low target tones in both sentence types. However, speakers had higher F0s overall for polar question carrier phrases than declaratives; declaratives showed greater F0 declination. Both declaratives and questions exhibit a phrase final fall, but lexical tone of bisyllabic objects are well differentiated in declaratives. In questions, tonal space for bisyllabic objects is compressed with level or rising tone patterns, while the falling tone pattern exhibits a large range difference in questions. The results of this study show that lexical tone targets are generally maintained, but intonation can impact tone realizations through pitch raising and compression.