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Polar Question Intonation in Kɔnni
Michael Cahill
90-98 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This is a preliminary study on the phonology of polar (yes/no) question intonation in Kɔnni (Gur, northern Ghana). Polar questions lengthen the final vowel or nasal, which exhibits a falling final pitch of varying characteristics. In "surprise" questions (those expressing surprise at the situation), the entire register is higher than that of the neutral polar question. The falling tone is described in terms of adding extra tonal autosegments, the specifics depending on the tones already present. In some H-final sentences, a LH tone is added. In another set, only a L tone is added, but in the "surprise question" form, LH is added. In statements ending with Low, the pitch is raised and then lowered, showing that a HLH is added. Most polar questions also exhibit a small but consistent "upflip" at the end.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages in Context
edited by Michael R. Marlo, Nikki B. Adams, Christopher R. Green, Michelle Morrison, and Tristan M. Purvis
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00