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Department of Linguistics

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WPP, No.110: Registers in tonal contrasts


This study revisits the issue of tonal registers by exploring the cues used in producing andperceiving the five level tones of Black Miao. Both production and perception experiments show that non-modal phonations are very important cues for tonal contrasts. Two different kinds of non-modal phonations that either enhance pitch contrasts or provide an additional contrastive cue divide tonal levels into several registers. Benefiting from more than one cue, 11, 33 and 55 are well distinguished in the tonal space; by contrast, 22 and 44, only contrasting in pitch, are the most confusable tones. The tonal registers model can explain the different uses of non-modal phonations across languages.

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