A Grammar of Tommo So by Laura McPherson

By Laura McPherson

Tommo So is a Dogon language with nearly 60,000 audio system in Mali, West Africa. As in simple terms the second one complete grammatical description of a Dogon language, this quantity is a serious source for fixing the secret of Dogon's genetic association with different languages in Africa. Tommo So is an SOV language with setting apart nominal morphology and agglutinative verbal morphology; suffixes at the verb mark tense/aspect/negation in addition to topic contract. The phonology is delicate to degrees of verbal morphology in that variable vowel concord applies much less often as one strikes to outer layers of the morphology. The tone approach of Tommo So is of typological curiosity in either its phonological and syntactic instantiations. Phonologically, it's a two-tone procedure of H and L, yet those specific tones distinction with a surface-underspecified tone. Grammatically, the lexical tone of a note is frequently overwritten via syntactically-induced overlays. for instance, an inalienable noun's tone should be changed with L whether it is possessed through a non-pronominal possessor, and by way of both H or HL if the possessor is pronominal. The language has additionally innovated a sequence of locative quasi-verbs and concentration debris delicate to pragmatic elements like simple task.

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Tommo So lacks the “bell-shaped tone” (following Heath 2008) characteristic of other Dogon languages such as Jamsay or Nanga, but it does maintain a three-way contrast between H, L and toneless, with the latter constrained to clitics and certain suffixes (McPherson 2011). Native Tommo So stems all have one of two melodies: /H/ or /LH/, but loanwords have introduced /HL/ and /LHL/ tone melodies into the lexicon. /HLH/ is not a licit surface melody. Word-level tone melodies can be overwritten in certain grammatical contexts; these changes are listed at the end of this sub-section and described in depth in Chapter 4.

The following minimal pairs show the phonemic status of continuancy, nasality, and backness for /w/. 15 /y/ The palatal glide /y/ becomes nasalized [y n] after a nasal vowel. This would result in its neutralization with intervocalic or word-final singleton /ɲ/, which also surfaces as [y n], though the opportunities for this neutralization are rare. The most common situation in which /y/-nasalization arises is in the formation of deverbal nouns from a monosyllabic verb stem with a nasal vowel, where the second half of the verb’s vowel is replaced with [y].

Though native Tommo So words do not allow geminate obstruents, for the phonotactic reasons pointed out above, we do find such geminates in loanwords, particularly from Fulfulde. Examples include sɔ́ bbɔ̀ ‘dry sowing’ or ɛ́ ddɛ̀ ‘widow’s four month period of mourning’. However, these geminates are relatively rare. 4 on phonotactics for token numbers in the lexicon. 4 Minimal pairs The following subsections address each phoneme in detail, showing allophonic variation where applicable and providing minimal and near minimal pairs with similar phonemes to illustrate their phonemic status.

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