Southeast Asian Linguistics Research Unit

Tonal and prosodic changes in Mainland Southeast Asia

Mainland Southeast Asia is a linguistic area, in which languages from diverse family converge so that they become typologically homogeneous. Tonal and prosodic features such as lexical tones, register, monosyllabicism, sesquisyllabicity, iambicity figure quite prominently among areal features that set Mainland Southeast Asia from neighboring regions. Adopting both experimental and more traditional approaches, we explore the interplay between phonetics, phonology, and contact in areal diachronic phenomena such as

  • Tonal contour changes
  • Transphonologization of tonal and prosodic contrast
  • Shifts of word-level prominence toward iambicity
  • Monosyllabization and sesquisyllabization

These phenomena are examined using various approaches including laboratory phonology, diachronic phonology, and variationist sociolinguistics.