Séminaire Terrains, Analyse et COmparaison des Langues (TACOL)

The next session of our TACOL seminar will take place on Wednesday, March 20 at 2:30 pm, on site (meeting room 311, CNRS Villejuif Campus) and on Zoom.

We will have the pleasure to listen to Maria Konoshenko & Maria Khachaturyan.

Title of talk:

“Tonal systems in contact: A two-level tone language meets three level tones”


In this talk, we explore the multilingual acquisition of level tones in a contact situation. We analyse production data from Mano and Kpelle, two Mande languages that are only distantly related to each other but are spoken in the same region of Forest Guinea (West Africa). Both languages have level tones, but crucially, in Mano, there is a three-way lexical Low/Mid/High contrast, while Kpelle only features a binary Low/High contrast. We discuss how Kpelle-dominant bilinguals, who have two tonal categories in their dominant language, produce three level tones in Mano, and compare their tonal realisations with those of the benchmarks, i.e. Mano-dominant speakers, as well as with Kpelle benchmark production. We show that Low and High tones in Mano are relatively easy to acquire for Kpelle-dominant speakers, but the Mid tone is challenging for some. We then discuss whether acoustic similarity, tone frequency and phonological markedness can account for the observed variation.


For further information, please contact Lameen Souag