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  1. 1. Tone in Sherpa (Sino-Tibetan) Joyce McDonough 1, Rebecca Baier 2 and Michelle Gregory 3 1 University of Rochester, 2 University of Maryland, 3 Pacific Northwest National Lab
  2. 2. <ul><li>Goal: To examine a claim about Sherpa tone. </li></ul><ul><li>An instrumental study of pitch contrasts in the </li></ul><ul><li>Sherpa (Sino-Tibetan) spoken in the Solo-Khumbu valley in Nepal. </li></ul><ul><li>The data in this study is from the upper Khumbu valley, in the high altitude villages below the Everest range. </li></ul><ul><li>While tonal contrasts in Sherpa have been observed, characterizing the tonal patterns in Sherpa has been elusive, </li></ul><ul><li>known to be confounded by the complex interaction of several factors including: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>intonation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>stress </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>accent </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. In a recent monograph, Kelly (2004) states that tone is contrastive in Sherpa: a word level contrast between two falling tones, one which begins higher than the other, overlaid with a stress system. Goal of this study is to find instrumental support for this observation. We used Kelly’s word list of the tonal contrasts in mono- and bi-syllabic words. Note: Kelly’s study was done in the lower Solo-Khumbu valley. We expect differences.
  4. 4. DATA: 4 native speakers (3 male, 1 female) (a 5 th speaker’s data was not used) isolated words in citation forms (4 speakers) short conversational utterances (1 speaker (female)) we recorded citation forms from native speakers by working with a Sherpa consultant who facilitated the elicitation of the contrasts ( ser meaning ‘cloud’, versus ser meaning ‘cough’) short descriptions of activities that included particular lexical items were elicited (How do you make chang ?)
  5. 5. <ul><li>We found evidence for two contrastive pitch contours in citation forms showing a clear bimodal distribution pattern- even in a speaker with a very narrow pitch range (Sp3). Both contours were falling, one beginning higher than the other, as Kelly noted. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This bi-modal pattern was the same in both mono- and bi-syllabic citation forms. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The two forms show slightly different timing patterns, indicating the tone target was aligned to the syllable. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indicating the domain of the fall was larger than word level. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Additionally, the fall was not present in utterance medial position. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We also found evidence for canonical intonational marking, a fall and a rise, which interacted with the tonal patterns. </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>Contrast between H and L toned marked words in citation forms. </li></ul><ul><li>The forms exhibit the falling contour reported by Kelly (2003): </li></ul><ul><li>H starts higher than the L toned words. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a word level phenomena. </li></ul><ul><li>Both mono- and bi- syllabic tokens showed the same pitch contours: </li></ul><ul><li>falling over the course of the word </li></ul><ul><li>H tone associated to the 1 st syllable </li></ul><ul><li>L drop at end </li></ul><ul><li>timing differences between mono- and bi- syllablic tokens indicate a syllable affiliation of tone </li></ul><ul><li>Note the pitch contour for the 1 st syllable of a L toned word [ lola ] ‘wall’ </li></ul>[ß´rwa] ‘sherpa’ vs ‘blind’
  7. 8. The same bi-modal distribution pattern was present in all speakers, even in Sp3 who had a rising rather than falling pattern and a narrow pitch range. Note that the rising pattern in Sp3 was a rise to the H level of this H tone words. Sp2 Sp3
  8. 9. <ul><li>Sp 4 produced words in citation forms and in short utterances. </li></ul><ul><li>She had the same bi-model distribution patterns on the accented syllable with a falling contour in citation forms. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the falling pitch contour was not always present. </li></ul><ul><li>Sp4 produced H tone forms within sentences. In these forms there was no fall. </li></ul><ul><li>Sp4 also produced rises, like Sp3. </li></ul>Sp4: pitch contours of [ ß ´rwå]
  9. 10. <ul><li>The force of the pattern is apparent in these graphs of tokens showing the contrast between a H and L tone marked [ s ´r ]. </li></ul><ul><li>As before, Sp4 tokens are taken from both isolation and citation forms, the two patterns are present. </li></ul><ul><li>Sp3 has three tokens, two H tone, one L (blue), in citation forms. </li></ul>Sp4 Sp3 [s ´r] : H vs L
  10. 11. <ul><li>L </li></ul><ul><li>Black: / dˆ lo `la / “This is a wall” </li></ul><ul><li>Red: / tßore lo ` måln / “How old are you?” </li></ul><ul><li>H </li></ul><ul><li>Blue: / ˜a lo’ jeno / “I have a cough” </li></ul>Sp4: [lo] contrast in utterances H We see a rise to the H tone /lo/ then a drop vs a falling contour of utterances with the L tone /lo/ . This suggests a pitch accent type system. Words are marked for accent or not. Those with an accent have a H pitch target . * [ lo ] vs [ lo ] H/L contrast in utterances
  11. 12. <ul><li>Two intonation patterns are present in the data: </li></ul><ul><li>a standard fall and a continuation rise </li></ul><ul><li>These intonation patterns are perturbed by the presence of a H tone target in accented words . </li></ul><ul><li> H* </li></ul><ul><li>˜a lo j´no </li></ul><ul><li>tßore lo` måln </li></ul>L% L% the final fall and rise arguably due to boundary tones….
  12. 13. <ul><li>We suggest that the H tone target is aligned to a stressed syllable in an accented word. </li></ul><ul><li> * </li></ul><ul><li>«ß ´rwå vs «ß ´rwå </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Sherpa’ ‘blind’ </li></ul><ul><li>However, we have yet to determine the relationship between stress and accent. It is not clear whether every stressed syllable has an accent by default, or whether there is a 4-way contrast. </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>Q: can Sherpa have stressed syllables without accent (tone target)? </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-summary: We suggest that Sherpa has a pitch accent system with: contrast between accented and unaccented words. </li></ul><ul><li>the system assigns a H tone target to a accented syllable. </li></ul><ul><li>However this interacts with stress </li></ul><ul><li>the relationship between accent and stress is yet to be determined. </li></ul>default ---- no ?? H yes no yes Stress Pitch
  14. 15. <ul><li>These ex’s show the first confound: </li></ul><ul><li>between accent and stress in bisyllables: In all 3 forms: audible stress on the second syllable of accented /tsi « rup/. </li></ul><ul><li> * </li></ul><ul><li>[ t߈`«rup ] ‘squeeze’ </li></ul><ul><li>Note contrast between citation and IP medial contours </li></ul><ul><li>The stress distinction is also lexical. </li></ul><ul><li>Gordon et. al. identify a ‘high rising contour’ , contrasting with a ‘ low rising contour’ . as well as high & low falling contours . </li></ul><ul><li>The tokens differ in the alignment/realization of the H tone target: cit vs medial . </li></ul>‘ High rising contour’ [ t߈ « rup ] * 3x Sp4 citation (L%) medial nga la chang tsirup gano L% L%
  15. 16. <ul><li>This data suggests an interaction of stress and pitch accent with intonation. </li></ul><ul><li>Pitch accent hypothesis: Sherpa </li></ul><ul><li> * </li></ul><ul><li>Word stress «  Word accent «  </li></ul><ul><li>In bisyllables: 1 st or 2 nd syllable may carry stress </li></ul><ul><li>Stressed syllables attract accent. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggested word typology : </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>* </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li> «   «  </li></ul><ul><li> High fall Low fall ( intonational) </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li> «  «   «  «  </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>High fall high rise low fall low rise ( intonational) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 17. H L-L% * nga la chang tsi « rup gano H L-L% * tsˆ « rup citation utterance medial H H-H% * « ß´rwå H fall H rise Alignment of accent determined by position in utterance, stress and intonational specification. intonation: ToBI notation Best handled by a theory that incorporates temporal (alignment of target) information into representation.
  17. 18. <ul><ul><li>The falling contours (‘high falling’) of /tsirup/ in citation are due to the presence of L boundary tones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All examples of ‘high rising’ will be IP medial. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The data we collected were not set up to examine this phenomena. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Further study of Sherpa might best include the development of a set of elicitation materials to examine accent , stress and intonation in a broad set of carefully controlled lexical and prosodic contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>Modeling to support these hypotheses. </li></ul><ul><li>With extension to the examination of natural speech in dialogue/storytelling and the development of spoken language corpora. </li></ul>