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Pitch accent typology and intonation in the three dialects of Ryukyuan

Conference paper
Authors Yasuko Nagano-Madsen
Published in Proceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
ISSN 2333-2042
Publisher Speech Prosody Special Interest Group (SProSIG)
Place of publication Poznan, Poland
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Language en
Keywords Ryukyuan, lexical pitch accent typology, syntax, focus, mood suffix 1
Subject categories East Asian languages, Phonetics


This paper examines the intonation of the three dialects of Ryukyuan from a perspective of lexical pitch accent typology. Together with Japanese, Ryukyuan forms a Japonic language family; it is also an endangered and understudied language despite its typologically interesting features. The three dialects of Ryukyuan differ in their lexical pitch accent types; they have an H*L accent (Shuri), an L*H accent (Nakijin), and no accent (Miyako) respectively. Furthermore, Ryukyuan has obligatory mood suffixes to indicate various sentence types including the presence or absence of the focus. In this paper, we analyze the intonation in the three dialects of Ryukyuan with reference to the syntactic structure and focus manifestation. The results showed both similarities and differences in their prosodic organizations. The importance of a phrasal tone (H- and L-) as well as the similarity between the L*H dialect and the accentless dialect are discussed.

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