OLAC Record

Title:When marking tone reduces fluency : an orthography experiment in Cameroon
Abstract:Should an alphabetic orthography for a tone language include tone marks? Opinion and practice are divided along three lines: zero marking, phonemic marking and various reduced marking schemes. This paper examines the success of phonemic tone marking for Dschang, a Grassfields Bantu language which uses tone to distinguish lexical items and some grammatical constructions. Participants with a variety of ages and educational backgrounds, and having exposure to the orthography were tested on location in the Western Province of Cameroon. All but one had attended classes on tone marking. Participants read texts which were marked and unmarked for tone, then added tone marks to the unmarked texts. Analysis shows that tone marking degrades reading fluency and does not help to resolve tonally ambiguous words. Experienced writiers attain an accuracy score of 83.5% in adding tone marks to a text, while inexperienced writers score a mere 53 %, which is not much better than chance. The experiment raises serious doubts about the suitability of the phonemic method of marking tone for languages having widespread tone sandhi effects, and lends support to the notion that a writing system should have 'fixed word images'. A critical review of other experiemtnal work on African tone orthography lays the groundwork for the experiment, and contributes to the establishment of a uniform experimental paradigm
Creator:Bird, Steven
Description:Includes bibliographical references (p. 25-26)
Steven Bird's publications are available at http://www.ldc.upenn.edu/sb/home/publications.html
Published in 1999 in Language and Speech 42:83-115
Extent:p. 1-31 ; 28 cm
Format (IMT):PDF
Identifier (URI):http://cogprints.org/2173/00/lgsp42.pdf
Language (ISO639):eng
Spatial Coverage:Cameroon
Subject:Yemba language
Subject (ISO639):ybb
Subject (LCSH):Yemba language--Orthography and spelling--Cameroon
Functional literacy--Africa
Tone (Phonetics)
Subject (OLAC):writing_systems
Type (DCMI):Text
Type (OLAC):language_description


Archive:  Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics Library
Description:  http://www.language-archives.org/archive/gial.edu
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OAI Info

OaiIdentifier:  oai:gial.edu:21883
DateStamp:  2009-05-27
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Search Info

Citation: Bird, Steven. 1998. Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics Library.
Terms: area_Africa area_Europe country_CM country_GB dcmi_Text iso639_eng iso639_ybb olac_language_description olac_phonetics olac_writing_systems

Inferred Metadata

Country: Cameroon
Area: Africa

Up-to-date as of: Thu Feb 5 2:04:26 EST 2015