This study is part of the documentation and conservation of Tsuut'ina (Sarcee, Sarsi; ISO 639-3: srs), a northern Dene (Athabascan) language by a collaboration of academic and community members. Tsuut'ina is a tone language, but contrary to Dene tonogenesis theory and unlike reports on all other Dene tone languages, Tsuut'ina is reported to have three tones, H, L, M. The tonal system in Dene family has been argued to arise from the loss of laryngealized sonorants in the monosyllabic stem codas and the incorporation of laryngealization into the nucleus of the stem, resulting in H and L tonal contrasts. The Dene languages additionally exhibit 'tonal reversal', a tendency for the Dene tone languages to show 'reversed' tonal patterns that postdate the original tonogenesis. In this study we investigate the tonal distribution, realization patterns in data collected from fluent speakers reciting prepared wordlists and short discourses. Preliminary investigation indicates that, as reported, three tonal patterns emerge, with distinct distribution patterns arguably related to morphological factors. Furthermore M tone is more highly variable. The distribution patterns and interactions with morphology and the statistical analyses associated with the data are laid out.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4800661
Conference 21st International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2013 - 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
Citation
McDonough, J. (Joyce), O'Loughlin, J. (Jared), & Cox, C. (2013). An investigation of the three tone system in Tsuut'ina (Dene). In Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics. doi:10.1121/1.4800661