Topics in Taita tone II


  • David Odden


Taita, Dembwa, Mbololo, tone


This paper describes aspects of tone in the Mbololo dialect of Taita, compariing it to the Dembwa dialect described in Odden (2001). A salient feature of tone in the language is a covert lexical distinction between words with final H versus those with no final tone. Phrasal tone alternations provide ample evidence allowing the recovery of this underlying distinction. The language also has a process of rightward H tone shift, also found in languages such as lita and Dembwa Taita. In contrast to Dembwa Taita, where language-internal evidence clearly indicates that surface shift is the result of general spreading and restricted de linking, the patterns of spread and delinking in Mbololo Taita are perfectly matched, so that there is no synchronic evidence for a two-step account of tone shift.