Re-assessing tonal diversity and geographical convergence in Mainland Southeast Asia

Marc Brunelle, James Kirby

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) is often described as the quintessential Sprachbund in which languages belonging to different language families converge as a result of contact. In this paper, we look in detail at the evidence for convergence of a specific phonological feature, tone, as expressed by two of its phonetic correlates, pitch and voice quality. Based on a database of 197 languages and dialects, we assess the extent of tonal diversity in MSEA languages and construct a statistical model of the degree to which tonal inventories can be predicted on the basis of geographic proximity, genealogical relatedness and population size. We find that the most robust predictors of tonality in MSEA languages are family and word shape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia
Subtitle of host publicationThe State of the Art
EditorsN.J. Enfield, Bernard Comrie
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
ISBN (Electronic)9781501501685, 9781501501708
ISBN (Print)9781501508431, 9781501515897
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2015

Publication series

NamePacific Linguistics
ISSN (Print)1448-8310


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