Date of Degree

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Linguistics

Advisor

Juliette Blevins

Subject Categories

Linguistics

Keywords

Gurung; Nepal; Phonology; Sino-Tibetan; Tonogenesis

Abstract

This thesis examines proposals for the tone system of Gurung, a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Nepal, in light of data collected from a speaker of Siklis Gurung. Although Gurung is widely acknowledged to be a tonal language, existing descriptions of Gurung disagree as to how these tone categories should be defined and whether word-initial obstruent voicing is phonemic or allophonic. The data presented in this paper suggests that, despite claims otherwise, voicing is phonemic in some dialects of Gurung. It also suggests that Siklis Gurung is best analyzed as having three tone categories: a low tone that occurs with breathy phonation; and high and mid tones that occur with modal phonation. Following models of tonogenesis, the emergence of these three tones is attributed to the split of one of two proto-tones due to the loss of a word-initial obstruent voicing contrast. This hypothesis is compared to theories outlined in the literature.

Included in

Linguistics Commons

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