Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The vast majority of African languages are tonal, and they have played a major role in the formation of theories of tone, especially since the advent of autosegmental tonology. Spread and shift of tone, floating tones and tone melodies, and downstep are well-documented properties of African tone, manifesting the fact that tones owe little allegiance to the segments realizing them. There is considerable diversity in the typology of African tone systems, with some languages attesting six distinctive pitch levels or having three-element contours on a syllable-by-syllable basis, and others sparsely specified for tone, resembling so-called pitch-accent systems. Numerous languages employ abstract tone patterns in meaningful ways, often marking tense with particular arrangements of the basic tone levels in the language. This chapter surveys the main features of tone in the languages of Africa.

Keywords: tone, floating tone, tone melody, downstep, tone level, contour

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.