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On the Tones of certain Languages of Burma

  • L. F. Taylor

[MR. L. F. TAYLOR, of the Indian Educational Service, was the official entrusted by the Government of Burma with the preparation of the gramophone records of the languages of that Province, which have lately been presented to the School of Oriental Studies. It was he, also, who prepared the valuable report on the Preparatory Stage or Linguistic Census, for the proposed linguistic survey of Burma. In the course of correspondence on these subjects, I appealed to him for help in the vexed question of the tones peculiar to these forms of speech, and he very kindly undertook a minute inquiry into the subject and forwarded to me the notes which form the body of this paper. As they were too valuable to be consigned to the obscurity of office records, with his permission I have arranged them into the form of an article. So far as I know these notes of Mr. Taylor's are the only attempts at illustrating graphically the tones of several important languages of Further India that have been published. In this connexion, I would also refer the student to Dr. C. N. Bradley's valuable articles on pp. 282 ff. of vol. xxxi (1911) of the Journal of the American Oriental Society and on pp. 39 ff. of vol. xlvi (1915) of the Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The first deals with Siamese and the second with two Chinese dialects. In each the wave-lengths of the tones used in these languages as mechanically recorded in the Rousselot apparatus were carefully measured and plotted, forming curves or patterns of pitch which could be shown upon a chart. It is interesting to find that the results thus obtained by Dr. Bradley for Siamese closely agree with those recorded by Mr. Daniel Jones and Mr. Taylor.

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page 104 note 1 A stop is a closure to an unstressed syllable, i.e. it does not confine the breath beneath it at high pressure. On reopening the glottis very little breath will issue through. It is represented above by °, thus ka°.

A check is a closure to a stressed syllable, it confines the breath at high pressure. If the glottis be reopened immediately, a considerable volume of breath may emerge.

represents the glottal check, thus ka, and k represents the velar check, thus kauk.

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Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • ISSN: 0041-977X
  • EISSN: 1474-0699
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-the-school-of-oriental-and-african-studies
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