A Grammar of Fongbe by Brousseau, Anne-Marie; Lefebvre, Claire

By Brousseau, Anne-Marie; Lefebvre, Claire

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3. Tones Fongbe is a lexical tone language (see Brillon—Brousseau 1986; Brousseau 1991, 1993a; Brousseau—Brillon 1990; Wiesemann 1991). The phonological representation of lexical items includes a specification for one of two tones—low or high—and there are numerous minimal pairs which can be distinguished only by tone, such as gb 'to break' and gb 'to build', xu 'sea' and xu 'bone', g n 'iron' and g n 'chief. Phonological tones may be modified lexically or postlexically, yielding three phonetic tones: rising (LH), falling (HL), and mid (M).

2) INVENTORY OF CONSONANTS IN FONGBE Bilabial Labio- Alveo- Alveo- Palatal Velar Labiodental dental palatal velar Stop - voiceless [p] t k kp Stop - voiced d g gb Affricate - voiceless c Affricate - voiced j Fricative - voiceless f s χ xw Fricative - voiced ν ζ γ yw Sonorant b [m] q\ [n] |ji] Sonorant - liquid 1 [r] Sonorant - glide w y [y] The most striking fact about the inventory of consonants in (2) is that it lacks a phonemic /p/. In Fongbe, [p] is found in very few lexical items. In his dictionary, Segurola (1963) lists only 16 words with an initial [p].

Thus, synchronically, the height distinction in mid nasal vowels is always neutralised in Fongbe. In the inventory in (1), /e/ and lot are represented in parentheses to indicate this fact. The inventory of consonants in Fongbe shown in (2) is based on the work of Brillon—Brousseau (1986) and Capo (1991). Consonants shown in square brackets are contextually determined phonetic variants. This inventory includes twenty-one phonemic and six phonetic consonants. (2) INVENTORY OF CONSONANTS IN FONGBE Bilabial Labio- Alveo- Alveo- Palatal Velar Labiodental dental palatal velar Stop - voiceless [p] t k kp Stop - voiced d g gb Affricate - voiceless c Affricate - voiced j Fricative - voiceless f s χ xw Fricative - voiced ν ζ γ yw Sonorant b [m] q\ [n] |ji] Sonorant - liquid 1 [r] Sonorant - glide w y [y] The most striking fact about the inventory of consonants in (2) is that it lacks a phonemic /p/.

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