Prosodic Aspects of Sylheti

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This dissertation discusses the nature of prosodic features of Sylheti, an Indo-Aryan language (ISO 15924), also debatably a dialect of Bengali. It aims to present the correlation between components of the prosodic hierarchy in the language and the components of its grammar. It is an attempt to present a typological study of Sylheti that evolved into a tone language, independently from the group of the language family to which it genetically belongs. It presents an overall view of tone and intonation in the language and shows how these connect to sound systems and grammar. The language exhibits a three-way tonal contrast, distinguishing the High, Mid, and Low lexical tones. The tonogenetic factors contributed by the instability of the diachronic four-way laryngeal contrast conditioned a three-way tonal contrast in Sylheti depending on the voicing and syllabic position of the sound. Tonogenesis is one of the central aspects of the phonology of the language, as a detailed study on the phonetics and phonology of the three-way tonal system of the language reveals the factors behind the difference in the tonal behaviour at the post-lexical level such as the difference between the complex morphemes and compounds in the language.
Supervisor: Mahanta, Shakuntala