Germanic tone accents

Germanic tone accents: Proceedings of the first international workshop on Franconian tone accents, Leiden, 13–14 June 2003. Ed. by Michiel de Vaan. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006. Pp. 167. ISBN 9783515088770. $63 (Hb).

Reviewed by Malcolm Ross, The Australian National University

Earlier versions of these ten papers were presented at the First International Workshop on Franconian Tone Accents, Leiden, 13–14 June 2003. Despite the conference title, only six of the papers discuss Franconian word accents: Scandinavian word accents are explored in three of the papers, and one paper compares Franconian and Scandinavian word accents.

The Franconian word accent area embraces most of Dutch and Belgian Limburg, all of Luxemburg, and an adjacent portion of Germany from Krefeld southward to the Mosel Valley and eastward to the Rhine Valley. The accent distinction affects words whose stressed syllable has a rhyme of two or more sonorant moras. In ‘Das Rätsel löst sich: Phonetik und sprachhistorische Genese der Tonakzente im Regelumkehrgebiet (Regel B)’ (135–63), Jürgen Erich Schmidt and Hermann J. Künzel contrast a Central Franconian and a South Mosel Franconian dialect of German. They show that the accents are distinguished by length and pitch movement. In ‘Die Tonakzente in der Mundart von Beuren/Hochwald’ (85–90), Anna Peetz’ summarizes the phonology of a Beuren/Hochwald dialect.

In ‘The Cologne word accent revisited’ (107–33), Jörg Peters analyzes the complex phonetic manifestations of the Cologne accent distinction. He shows that pitch is not the most distinctive feature. José Cajot argues in ‘Phonologisch bedingter Polytonieverlust—eine tonlose Enklave südlich vom Maastricht’ (11–23), that in some Limburg dialects, one accent has undergone changes in vowel quality. Furthermore, because tone has become redundant, it has been lost in the dialects in which changes have affected the largest number of eligible lexical items. In ‘Eine vergleichende diachrone Untersuchung zum Tonverlust südwestlich der Stadt Maastricht’ (51–61), Ronny Keulen reconstructs changes that have affected Early West Germanic vowels in the toneless area. Jan Goosens, ‘Historische und geographische Randbedingungen des Genker Tonakzentsystems’ (35–49), describes a number of isoglosses that occur in association with the accent distinction in Limburg dialects to the west and north of the tone loss area.

Harry Perridon’s ‘On the origin of the Scandinavian word accents’ (91–105) provides a summary of Scandinavian accents and proposes a new interpretation of their history. Gjert Kristoffersen, ‘Is 1 always less than 2 in Norwegian tonal accents?’ (63–71), argues that the difference between the two tones in West Norwegian dialects can be characterized as differential timing of a single high-low melody. Inger Ejskjær, ‘Glottal stop (stød, parasitic plosive) and (distinctive) tonal accents in the Danish dialects’ (25–33), surveys dialectal manifestations of these phenomena. Ejskjær concludes that many of their details are attributable to changes internal to Danish and postdate common Scandinavian.

In ‘Epenthetic consonants and the accentuation of words with old closed vowels in Low German, Dutch, and Danish dialects’ (73–83), Anatoly Liberman argues that epenthetic -k- in words such as dialectal German huks (< hūs ‘house’) postdates word accents and is not a reflex of stød. However, Liberman’s analysis must be viewed in context of a controversial claim that Scandinavian and Franconian word accents reflect a common inheritance from Proto-Germanic, a position not accepted by some of the other contributors (e.g. Schmidt & Künzel, Keulen, Perridon, and Ejskjær) who argue that word accent contrasts have arisen much more recently from allophonic contrasts in which changes in canonic word forms would otherwise have resulted in homophony.

This volume is not an introduction to Germanic word accents; most of the papers presuppose substantial knowledge of the topic.