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Tajudeen Mamadou and Mariapaola D’Imperio gave an invited talk at Ghent University

Tajudeen Mamadou and Mariapaola D’Imperio recently gave an invited talk at Ghent University(Belgium) on October 26, 2021, where they talk about a study on intonation in Ede Chaabe. Please find the title and abstract of the talk, below.

Title : ‘Intonation as Key for a More Comprehensive Sub-tonal Feature System‘ 

Abstract: In studies on African lexical tone languages, intonation is often approached either as emergent from the cumulative effects of local interactions between sub-tonal features like the register feature (Welmers, 1959; Inkelas & al, 1986; Connell & Ladd, 1990; Clements, 1979) or as limited to domain boundary manifestations (Rialland, 2007). When global effects are mentioned, they are often treated as phonetic in nature (Inkelas & al, 1986; a.o), supposedly because they match the predictions of the Frequency Code, which holds that questions are realized with a higher pitch than statements (Gussenhoven, 2002; Cahill, 2013). Here, we present the results of a case study (production and perception) of yes/no question intonation in Ede Chaabe (cbj, Benin). We found that questions’ register is lower and not higher, but also have a L% edge tone known to characterize ‘lax’ prosody languages (Rialland, 2009); hence contrary to the Frequency Code. Considering these findings, we argue that the observed global effects are represented in the grammar in the form of a Register feature, which is treated in the present account as an intonational feature than spans specific prosodic domains. We go a step further in proposing a new sub-tonal feature model that does not use a register feature (like previous models do), but rather treats lexical tones as pitch change instructions, where Polarity (+/-) indicates the direction of the change and Step (1/2) would indicate its magnitude. In this sense, any given lexical tone (with Polarity and Step features) is projected on the intonational Register plane, post-lexically.