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WPP, No. 108: Bole Intonation

  • Author(s): Schuh, Russell G.
  • Gimba, Alhaji Maina
  • Ritchart, Amanda
  • et al.
Abstract

Bole is a Chadic language spoken in Yobe and Gombe States in northeastern Nigeria. The Bole tone system has two contrasting level tones, high (H) and low (L), which may be combined on heavy syllables to produce phonetic rising and falling tones. The prosody of intonation refers to lexical tones and the overall function of the utterance. Bole does not have lexical or phrasal stress, and intonation does not play a pragmatic role typical of stress languages, such as pitch raising to signal focus. The paper discusses intonation patterns of several phrasal types: declarative statements, yes/no questions of two types, WHquestions, vocatives, pleas, and lists. Certain interactions of intonation with tone apply to most of these phrase types: downdrift (esp. of H following L) across a phrase, phrase final tone lowering (extra lowering of phrase final L and plateauing of phrase final H after L), and boosting of H in the first HL sequence of a phrase. Special phrase final pitch phenomena in yes/no questions and pleas are described as appending extra-high (XH) and HL tones espectively. The last section discusses XH associated with ideophonic words, arguing that such words have lexical H tone which is intonationally altered to XH phrase finally.

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