Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Language and Communication Centre
This thesis deals with the lexical and grammatical tone in Abui, a Papuan language of Eastern Indonesia. Abui belongs to the Alor branch of the Timor-Alor-Pantar family, whose wider genetic affiliation is presently unresolved. The thesis starts with an overview of the current research and brings some new facts about Abui oral history and culture. The second chapter offers an update of Abui segmental phonetics and phonology, in particular focusing on the phonemic status of the uvular stop /q/ and on the micro-variation within the northern dialects of Abui, such as Fanating, Atimelang, Mainang, and Takalelang, the main place of this study. The third chapter examines lexical tone in Abui. Abui is a low-density lexical tone language, which means that tone is associated only with certain syllables and minimal pairs are relatively sparse. The chapter surveys known tone systems and characterizes the Abui type. Further, the chapter examines how lexical tone is affected by derivational (compounding) and inflectional processes (person and aspect inflection). The fourth chapter examines the behavior of lexical tones in the context of the sentence, where a number of phrasal tones are identified, not unlike in the recently described and related Fataluku language of East Timor. Phrasal boundary tones interact with the lexical tone and syntactic structure in a complex manner. The data is illustrated extensively with recordings, but this study is more qualitative in nature, given the complexity of the task, and the fact that this is the first venture into the problem of lexical and grammatical tone in this language.