Browsing by Author "Yliniemi, Juha-Sakari"

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  • Yliniemi, Juha-Sakari (Helsingfors universitet, 2005)
    This thesis is a preliminary phonological description of the Tibetan-related Denjongka language of Sikkim, India. Because the language has not been much researched and the previous studies have focused on other issues than phonology, the present paper is the first of its kind. The data for this thesis was gathered in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, from March to May 2004. I had four language informants from four different locations in Sikkim who spoke different dialects of Denjongka. One of the informants, from whom I recorded c. 900 words and 530 sentences, was used as the main data source for the analysis. First, I will give some ethnographic background information on the people who speak Denjongka. Next, I will discuss first the segmental and then the suprasegmental phonology of the language, which were analysed much in line with American structuralism. I also used acoustic analysis enabled by the Praat-program. Eight vowel phonemes were found. The phonemic status of /E/, however, is still suspect. I present some preliminary evidence for roundedness, frontness and height assimilation among the vowels. In the interpretation adopted in this analysis, there are no diphthongs in Denjongka. Forty consonant phonemes were found: 17 plosives, 7 affricates, 5 fricatives, 5 nasals, 4 liquids and 2 approximants. Denjongka plosives and affricates have four-way aspiration/voicing distinction: voiceless aspirated, voiceless unaspirated, voiceless slightly aspirated (devoiced), and voiced unaspirated. Two voiceless nasals and two voiceless liquids were found. Two phonation types were found to be contrastive, lax/breathy and tense/creaky. Nasalisation and length in vowels are phonemic. Denjongka is an incipient tone language. Tonal phenomena, which involve mainly pitch and phonation type, are complex. Pitch is most of the time predictable from the initial consonant and the phonation type. In some cases, however, pitch is the only contrastive feature between words. The description of Denjongka in this paper differs from the traditional four-tone system, which has been used in many descriptions of Tibetan-related languages. In the four-tone system, pitch is contrastive both in the high and low register, whereas in the present analysis pitch has been established to contrast only in the high register. Lastly, the appendices include a comparative word list of the four Denjongka dialects studied in this thesis.