Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Autosegmental Phonology

Definition: 

Autosegmental phonology is a non-linear approach to phonology that allows phonological processes, such as tone and vowel harmony, to be independent of and extend beyond individual consonants and vowels.

As a result, the phonological processes may influence more than one vowel or consonant at a time.

Examples: 

(Mende, Sierra Leone)

In an autosegmental analysis of Mende, tone is not a property of individual vowels or syllables, but is a property of the word as a whole.

In the examples in the following table, the tone given in the left most column is the tone specified for all the words in that row, regardless of how many syllables a word contains.

Tone

1 syllable

2 syllables

3 syllables

H

ndá ‘mouth’

ngúlú ‘tree’

kɛ́lɛ́lɛ́ ‘fraction’

L

kpà ‘debt’

bèlè ‘trousers’

kpàkàlì ‘chair’

HL

mbû ‘owl’

kényà ‘uncle’

félàmà ‘junction’

LH

mbǎ ‘rice’

nàvó ‘money’

ndàválá ‘sling’

LHL

mba ‘companion’

nyàhâ ‘woman’

nìkílì ‘peanut’

 

Formal representation:

Here are some examples of formal representations of HL Mende tone:

Source: 
135–147

Glossary Hierarchy