Tonal classes in Itunyoso Trique person morphology
DiCanio, Christian T.
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Otomanguean languages possess some of the most complex tonal inventories among the languages of the world. According to the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures, approximately 41.8% of the world’s languages (220/527) are tonal (Maddieson 2011). Of these, 60% (132/220) have only 1–2 lexical tone contrasts and 40% have three or more tonal contrasts (88/220). Among the tone languages with large inventories, languages with between 3–6 tonal contrasts are relatively common, e.g. Thai (5), Mandarin (4), Vietnamese (6), Cantonese (6), Yoruba (3). Languages with more than six tones are rare, but many are Otomanguean. For instance, in Yoloxóchitl Mixtec, up to 8 tones may occur on a single mora and 20 tonal melodies on a bimoraic monosyllabic word (DiCanio et al. 2014). Quiahije Chatino has 14 tones (Cruz 2011), Tlacoatzintepec Chinantec has 7 (Thalin 1980), and Chiquihuitlan Mazatec has 17 (Jamieson 1977). In addition to such bewildering complexity in inventory size, Otomanguean languages also contain complex morphological processes where tone plays an integral role; a feature largely absent from many East and Southeast Asian tonal languages.