Sotho Tonology - Tonal Rules - Some Examples

Some Examples

To construct many verb forms, including many positive indicative tenses without direct objects as well as infinitives, the following rules are applied in order:

  1. Underlying level (lexical tones)
    1. Verb roots (including melodies)
  2. Lexical level (rule assigned tones)
    1. Subject concords
    2. HTD
      1. Verb roots
      2. Subject concords
    3. OCP
      1. RBD
      2. LBD
  3. Postlexical level
    1. FR
    2. LTA

Note that the three main levels are always applied in this order, though the actual rules contained in the levels will change depending on the parts of speech, verb moods, etc. For the word O a bina ("She is singing") the application of the rules is as follows:

o•a•bina
│ │ │ │ underlyingly (H stem)
│ │ H │
│ │ │ │ subjectival concord
H │ H │
├─┤ ├─┤ HTD
H │ H │
│ │ ├─┤ RBD
H │ H │
│ │ │ │ FR
H │ H │
│ │ │ │ LTA
H L H L

Constructing a word

The word appears on the surface with tonal pattern .

Furthermore, the second last syllable of the word is lengthened (or "stressed"), and the interaction of the tones as well as the penultimate lengthening results in the word being pronounced with pitch levels { ¯ _ \ _ }.

Extending the word by one syllable (O a bintsha "She is conducting"):

o•a•bintsha
│ │ ││ │ underlyingly (H stem)
│ │ H│ │
│ │ ││ │ subjectival concord
H │ H│ │
├─┤ ├┤ │ HTD
H │ H│ │
│ │ ├┤ │ RBD
H │ H│ │
│ │ ├┘ │ LTA
H L H L

Constructing a word

The word appears on the surface with tonal pattern (the high beneath the third syllable is associated with two syllables).

The second last syllable of the word is lengthened and the interaction of the tones as well as the penultimate lengthening results in the word being pronounced with pitch levels { ¯ _ ¯ \ _ }.

Read more about this topic:  Sotho Tonology, Tonal Rules

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