The Typology of Tone and Cushitic

Maarten Mous


The current dimensions in the typology of tone are not insightful for understanding the properties of tone in  Cushitic languages. Some Cushitic languages are characterised as “pitch-accent” and these cannot be considered stress languages because the criterion of obligatoriness of every word having a stressed unit is not valid for them. In Hyman’s (2006) typology these languages are (restricted) tone languages. Pitch as prominence marker does show stress-like tendencies of culminativity and demarcation in these languages which is why a label pitch-accent has been suggested. The tone properties are better explained by another dimension, namely the fact that the distinctive function of tone hardly plays a role at the lexical level but does play a role at the grammatical level

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ISSN 2224-3380 (online); 1726-541X (print)

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