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Title: Tones and intonation in Gizey
Authors: De Dominicis, Amedeo
Keywords: gizey;tones;phonology
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Studi Magrebini
This paper investigates the role of intonation in Gizey, a tonal language
classified as a Chadic language - one of the four families of the
Afro-Asiatic phylum (Ajello & Karyo & Melis & Dobio 2001; De
Dominicis 2007; Melis 1999, 2002, 2007). Gizey belongs to the Biu-
Mandara or the Masa cluster, which includes two branches: Masa
(Masa, Gizey) and Musey (Musey, Ham, Marba-Lew, Monogoy). According
to Seignobos’s census (Seignobos & Iyebi-Mandjek 2000),
Gizey is spoken in the south of Chad and in the north of Cameroon by
about 12,000 speakers. It has not been described yet and it is not included
in the Ethnologue archive (Grimes & Grimes 1996). In the present
study, a dialogue (recorded on January 7, 2004) between two native
speakers (both males, 20 years of age) living in Djougoumta – a
little village in the North-East of Cameroon – has been analysed. Their
conversation concerns local methods of building houses.
As a tonal language, Gizey should attribute to F0 dynamics the expression
of both lexical tones and sentence intonation contour. But many
contexts show a more complex tonal perturbation, in which the surface
realisation is the expression of underlying syntactic functions and relations.
Just as words sequences instantiate or repeat a given syntactic
scheme and thus can be analysed in a grid, certain perturbation patterns
mark their membership to the same syntactic function, sometimes even
beyond the intonation phrase boundaries. In other words, in these cases,
the similarity of the perturbation mechanisms establishes and endorses
the syntax-intonation interface: at the surface level, the affected constituents
mark the underlying identity of their syntactic function.
ISSN: 0585-4954
Rights: If not otherwise stated, this document is distributed by the Tuscia University Open Archive under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution - Noncommercial - Noderivs License (
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