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Title: Nominal Tone in Mmen. A Grassfield Bantu language of Cameroon
Authors: Möller, Mirjam
Keywords: African Languages
Niger-Congo Languages
Atlantic-Congo Languages
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Goteborgs Universitet
Abstract: Mmen is part of the Grassfield Bantu language family, a branch of the Southern-Bantoid languages found in Cameroon. Grassfields Bantu languages are known to have complex tone systems as compared to languages found within Narrow Bantu for example. This study focuses on nominal tone in Mmen as realised within noun stems from noun classes 7 and 9. Mmen has three level tones on the surface, i.e., high [H], mid [M] and low [L], plus the contour tones, i.e., [HM], [HL] and [LH]. The nouns are presented in isolation as well as in different contexts where the stems are preceded by either a /H/ or a /L/ tone. Stems sometimes realise identical tone patterns in isolation but, once put in a context, they show different tonal alternations. This is due to the different underlying tones from which the surface tones are derived. The present study suggests that all surface tones are derived from sequences of two underlying tones, i.e., /H/ and /L/. The sequences of /H/ and /L/ tones are then realised differently on the surface due to the different tonal processes at work in the Mmen noun.
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