The EVOTONE project studies the origins, acquisition, and evolution of linguistic tone: the use of pitch to distinguish between the meaning of words. Despite the typological ubiquity of tone, there is still no phonetic, structural, or psychological model that explains how and why tones emerge (or fail to emerge) in language after language, nor how they evolve once they are formed. This is because there has never been a systematic analysis of the principles that govern the evolution of tone systems. EVOTONE will provide the first comprehensive study of tonal emergence and evolution, combining detailed phonetic and perceptual studies with innovative experimental methodologies and large-scale computational analysis of the structural principles correlated with the emergence of tone.
The findings of this project will provide a new empirical foundation for the typology and evolution of tone systems; break new ground in the study of how structural and phonetic factors interact in sound change; and establish, for the first time, an empirically grounded set of principles of tonal evolution. In addition to resolving a number of outstanding questions about tonogenesis, the results will substantially advance our more general understanding of how language changes over time.
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
SIL International and Payap University
- Pawitsapak Akarajaradwong, Kantika Apinyovichien, Zuzana Elliot, Pimthip Kochaiyaphum, Peeranut Nittayanonte, Phongbhorn Prayongdravya, Sue-Anne Richer, Kedsaraporn Ruechai, Thitivut Sommool, Brisa Speier-Brito, Uracha Tatiyanunt, Chanakan Wittayasakpan
- Gehrmann, R. (2022). Desegmentalization: towards a common framework for the modeling of tonogenesis and registrogenesis in mainland Southeast Asia with case studies from Austroasiatic. University of Edinburgh PhD dissertation.
- Kirby, J. (2022). Effects of voiceless and pregottalized nasals on F0 in Eastern Khmu (Kmhmu' Am). In Papers from the 30th Conference of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (2021), 318-333.
- Kirby, J., Alves, M. (2022). Exploring statistical regularities in the syllable canon of Sino-Vietnamese loanmorph phonology. In Trang Phan, John Phan, and Mark Alves (eds.), Vietnamese Linguistics: State of the Field, pages 104-126. University of Hawaii Press.
- Yang, C. (2022). The phonetic tone change *high>rising: Evidence from the Ngwi dialect laboratory. Diachronica 39(2), 226-267.
- Yang, C., Pittayaporn, P., Kirby, J., Jitwiriyanot, S. (2021). Change and stability in the tonal contours of King Rama IX of Thailand, 1959-1997. In Proc. 1st International Conference on Tone and Intonation (TAI), 66-70. doi: 10.21437/TAI.2021-14.
- Kirby, J. (2021). Incorporating tone in the calculation of phonotactic probability. Proceedings of the 18th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology, Bangkok, 32–38. Supplementary materials
- Kirby, J., Kleber, F., Siddins, J., and Harrington, J. (2020). Effects of prosodic prominence on obstruent-intrinsic F0 and VOT in German. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody, Tokyo, 210–214.
- Kirby, J., Ladd, D. R., Gao, J., and Elliott, Z. (2020). Elicitation context does not drive F0 lowering following voiced stops: Evidence from French and Italian. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 148, EL147–EL152.
- Zhang, Y., and Kirby, J. (2020). The role of F0 and phonation cues in Cantonese low tone perception. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 148, EL40–EL45.
- The Origins and evolution of tone workshop scheduled for 2021 has been postponed. More details will be available once the workshop has been rescheduled.
- Dockum, R., Kirby, J. (2022). Aggregating tone data for Tai languages: Challenges and new horizons for studying tonal variation and change. NWAV-AP 7, Chulalongkorn University, 15 December 2022.
- Pittayawat, P., Kirby, J., Yang, C., Jitwiriyanont, S. (2022). Tone change across the lifespan: Change and stability in Tone 3 of King Rama IX. NWAV-AP 7, Chulalongkorn University, 15 December 2022.
- Yang, C., Stanford, J., Zhang, N., Luo, C. (2022). Intergenerational differences in the high rising tone of Lahu Na. NWAV-AP 7, Chulalongkorn University, 15 December 2022.
- Yang, C., Pittayaporn, P., Kirby, J. (2022). Tone chain shifts in Thai and Lalo. 25th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, University of Oxford, 2 August 2022.
- Gehrmann, R., Dockum, R. (2022). Which Came First, the Register or the Tone? Tonogenesis and the East Asian Voicing Shift. 25th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, University of Oxford, 2 August 2022.
- Kirby, J., Brunelle, M., Pittayaporn, P. (2022). Studying the evolution of laryngeal contrast: insights from Southeast Asia. Invited plenary, LabPhon18: Phonology in a Rapidly Changing World, 24 June 2022.
- Yang, C., Pittayaporn, P., Kirby, J., Jitwiriyanot, S. (2021). Change and stability in the tonal contours of King Rama IX of Thailand. 1st International Conference on Tone and Intonation, Sønderborg, Denmark, 8 December 2021.
- Gao, J. (2021). Recurrent sound change is drawn from a pool of systematic variation. Linguistics Colloqium, University of Konstanz, 28 October 2021.
- Kirby, J. (2021). Incorporating tone in the calculation of phonotactic probability. Eighteenth SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Phonology, Morphology, and Phonetics, Bangkok, 5 August 2021.
- Gao, J., Kirby, J. (2021). Perceptual equivalence between prevoicing and pitch: implications for sound change. 4th Phonetics and Phonology in Europe, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, 22 June 2021.
- Gao, J., Kirby, J. (2021). Perceptual equivalence between prevoicing and pitch: implications for sound change. Methoden und Ansätze moderner phonetischer Forschung, Institute for Phonetics and Speech Processing, LMU Munich, 26 May 2021.
- Kirby, J., Alves, M. (2021). Exploring statistical regularities in the syllable canon of Sino-Vietnamese loanword phonology. Workshop "Vietnamese Linguistics, Typology and Language Universals", Harvard Yenching Institute, 16 April 2021. Plots and tables Supplementary materials
- Gao, J. (2021). Individual differences in cue integration in coarticulation, and how they may impact sound change. Séminaires de Recherches en Phonétique et Phonologie, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle/Paris 3, 22 January 2021.
- Gehrmann, R., Dockum, R. (2021). The East Asian Voicing Shift and its role in the origins of tone and register. Poster presented at the the 95th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America.
- Gao, J., Kirby, J. (2020). When is onset f0 perturbation enhanced? And what is enhancement after all? Phonetics/phonology workshop, U. Edinburgh. 30 October 2020.
- Hendrix, L. (2020). Perception of differences in tonal alignment depends on location relative to the nucleus-coda boundary. Poster presented at LabPhon 17, Vancouver, 7 July 2020.
- Kirby, J. (2020). Production and perception of onset F0: Insights from the EVOTONE project. UCL Speech Science Forum, 10 December 2020.
- Peralta, W. (2020). Place of articulation effects on the cue weighting of voicing. Poster presented at the LabPhon 17 Satellite Workshop "Cue Weighting: Thinking Outside The Box", Vancouver, 5 July 2020.
- Yang, C. (2020). Intermediate stages on the pathway from -ʔ to rising: Evidence from Ngwi (Loloish). Paper presented at the 53rd International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Language and Linguistics, Oct. 2-4, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas.
- Gehrmann, R. (2019). On the origin of rime laryngealization in Ta’oiq. 8th International Conference on Austroasiatic Linguistics, The Myanmar Center, Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
- Gehrmann, R., Kirby, J. (2019). The register phenomenon across Kuay dialects: analysis of the Huffman Katuic Audio Archives. 29th Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo, Japan.
- Yang, C. (2019). The emergence of rising tones in Ngwi. Paper presented at the 6th Workshop on Sino-Tibetan Languages of Southwest China, August 20-23, Nankai University, Tianjin, China.
- Yang, W., Yang, C. (2018). Reduction in Dali Nisu tone change-in-progress. Paper presented at TAL 2018 - 6th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, June 18-20, Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
All data generated by the EVOTONE project will be made available to the research community. Links to datasets related to individual papers can be found in the Supplementary Materials sections of the relevant publication. Links to more general datasets and corpora will be posted here as they become available. Our project GitHub repository is here.