Tone in grammar: What we already know and what we still don’t?

2017. №4, 101-114

Maria B. Konoshenko
Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation;
Moscow State University of Education, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation;


In this paper, I provide an overview of tone encoding grammatical meanings, a phenomenon which to date has not been sufficiently studied either by typologists, or by theoretical morphologists. A starting point for the present discussion is the newly published volume “Tone and inflection” edited by Enrique L. Palancar and Jean Léo Léonard, a collection of papers focusing on inflectional tone in various languages, mainly Oto- Manguean. I discuss basic formal and semantic properties of tone in grammar, illustrating my claims with examples from “Tone and inflection” as well as with cases from various African languages. I propose and justify several implicational hypotheses concerning typological patterning of grammatical tones; these generalizations should be tested in a balanced survey in the future.