Investigating intonation in Kammu: Report from an excursion in Laos
This seminar will report from ongoing work within the SIFT project (Separating Intonation from Tone) which represents collaboration between KTH (David House) and Lund University (Anastasia Karlsson, Jan-Olof Svantesson and Damrong Tayanin) and is funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. The purpose of the project is to investigate how the existence of lexical tones in a given language influences the use of intonation in that language especially as a signal for focus and phrasing. The main goal is to compare strategies for expressing intonational meanings in tonal and non-tonal languages.
Kammu, a Mon-Khmer language spoken in Northern Laos by approximately 600,000 speakers, is a language that has developed lexical tones rather recently, from the point of view of language history. One of the main dialects of this language is a tone language with high or low tone on each syllable, while the other main dialect lacks lexical tones. The dialects differ only marginally in other respects. This type of language material allows us to investigate how the existence of lexical tones in a language influences the use of intonation, especially as a signal for focus and phrasing.
In November, 2007, data collection was carried out during a two-week excursion in Laos. A total of 13 speakers, ranging in age from 14 to 72, were recorded. The recordings comprise approximately ten hours of both elicited and spontaneous speech material. During the seminar, I will cover some background to tone and intonation in Kammu and present a report from the excursion with particular emphasis on material and methodology.