Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

Abstract

This thesis provides an overview of the phonology of Mro Khimi, particularly with regard to tone. Mro Khimi is a Southern Chin language, belonging to the Kuki-Chin- Naga branch of the Tibeto-Burman language family (Lewis 2009).

Mro Khimi is distinct from other Chin languages in that it has a voiceless velar fricative and that, like Burmese, it distinguishes between an aspirated and unaspirated voiceless sibilant. Furthermore, the velar nasal /ŋ/ is conspicuously absent, except as a rare variant of /n/.

Mro Khimi also has three front round vowels /y ʏ ø/ that are not found in the vowel inventories of Proto-Chin or other Chin languages. These vowels correspond to the Proto-Chin diphthongs /u͜͜i o͜i u͜͜a/. Among Chin languages, only Mro Khimi and Kaang have central vowels, while only Mro Khimi and Mara do not have consonant codas.

Mro Khimi has two contrastive tones, H and L, which form four tone melodies used for both nouns and verbs: H L LH HL. Tone melodies associate to the root of the noun or verb and are assigned left to right, one to one. If there are more TBUs than tones, the final tone will spread to the right. If there are more tones than TBUs, the final tone will be left floating since contour tones are not permitted. Affixes are underlyingly toneless. The root melody either associates or spreads onto suffixes. Prefixes are normally assigned polar tone; if polar tone is blocked, the tone of the root spreads to the prefix. A H tone is phonetically lowered between a L and another H, giving the surface pattern LMH. Tone melodies do not cross root boundaries in compound nouns and verbs.

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Linguistics Commons

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