Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

A Polysystemic Approach, in Proto-Tibetan reconstruction, to tone and syllable-initial consonant clusters1


In an earlier article (Sprigg, 1963b) I drew on Burmese, with only a few examples from certain Tibetan dialects (Lhasa, Sherpa), to advocate applying prosodic analysis, the name commonly given to the polysystemic type of phonological analysis devised by J. R. Firth, to the languages of the TibetoBurman group for purposes of comparison and reconstruction; since then I have had an opportunity of studying two typologically different Tibetan dialects, the non-tonal Golok and the slightly tonal Balti, both of them remarkable for syllable-initial consonant clusters; and the relations of tone in the tonal Tibetan dialects to syllable-initial consonant clusters in the non-tonal dialects much strengthens the case, to my mind, for basing comparison of Tibetan dialects, and. through them, Proto-Tibetan reconstruction, on polysystemic analysis. The two main characteristics of such an analysis would be: (i) separate phonological systems for different types of syllable feature and syllable-initial feature; (ii) the emphasis on the syntagmatic association of successive phonetic features of the utterance rather than on purely paradigmatic contrast.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

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
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 4 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 39 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.