Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Autosegmental Phonology

Definition: 

Autosegmental phonology is a non-linear approach to phonology that allows phonological processes, such as tone and vowel harmony, to be independent of and extend beyond individual consonants and vowels.

As a result, the phonological processes may influence more than one vowel or consonant at a time.

Examples: 

(Mende, Sierra Leone)

In an autosegmental analysis of Mende, tone is not a property of individual vowels or syllables, but is a property of the word as a whole.

In the examples in the following table, the tone given in the left most column is the tone specified for all the words in that row, regardless of how many syllables a word contains.

Tone

1 syllable

2 syllables

3 syllables

H

nda@ ‘mouth’

ngu@lu@ ‘tree’

kE@lE@lE@ ‘fraction’

L

kpa$ ‘debt’

be$le$ ‘trousers’

kpa$ka$l"Ý ‘chair’

HL

mbu^ ‘owl’

ke@nya$ ‘uncle’

fe@la$ma$ ‘junction’

LH

mba& ‘rice’

na$vo@ ‘money’

nda$vu@la@ ‘sling’

LHL

mba ‘companion’

nya$ha^ ‘woman’

n"Ýk"Ûl"Ý ‘peanut’

 

Formal representation:

Here are some examples of formal representations of HL Mende tone:

Source: 
135–147

Glossary Hierarchy