Toda language


Toda language

language
name=Toda
nativename=தோதா "tōtā"
states=India
region=Nilgiri Hills
speakers=600 [ [http://www.ethnologue.org/show_language.asp?code=tcx Ethnologue] ]
familycolor=Dravidian
fam2=Southern
fam3=Tamil-Kannada
fam4=Tamil-Kodagu
fam5=Toda-Kota
iso2=dra|iso3=tcx|notice=Indic

Toda is a Dravidian language well known for its many fricatives and trills. It is spoken by the Toda people, a population of about one thousand who live in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India.

Phonemic inventory

Vowels

For a Dravidian language, Toda's sixteen vowels is an unusually large number. There are eight vowel qualities, each of which may occur long or short. There is little difference in quality between the long and short vowels, except for IPA|/e/, which occurs as IPA| [e] when short and as IPA| [æː] when long.

Consonants

Toda has an unusually large number of fricatives and trills. Its seven places of articulation are the most for any Dravidian language. (The apical coronals are marginally postalveolar, and are sometimes judged to be alveolar instead.) The voiceless laterals are true fricatives, not voiceless approximants; the retroflex is highly unusual among the world's languages.

Toda voiceless fricatives are allophonically voiced intervocalically. (There are also invariably voiced fricatives, IPA|ʒ, ʐ, ɣ, though the latter is marginal.) The nasals and IPA|/r̠, ɽ͡r, j/ are allophonically devoiced or partially devoiced in final position or next to voiceless consonants.

All of these consonants may occur in word-medial and -final position. However, only a restricted set occur initially. These are IPA|/p, t̪, k, f, s̪, m, n̠, r̘, l̪, j, w/, in boldface above.

Apical consonants are either alveolar or postalveolar. The actual feature that distinguishes IPA|/r̘/ and /r̠/ is obscure. They have the same primary place of articulation. Spajić "et al." have found that the rhotic which may occur word initially (erroneously called "dental" in previous literature, perhaps because Dravidian coronals tend to be dental by default) has a secondary articulation, which they have tentatively identified as advanced tongue root until further measurements can be made. This analysis is assumed in the transcription IPA|/r̘/.

Another difference between them is that IPA|/r̘/ is the least strongly trilled, most often occurring with a single contact. However, unlike a flap, multiple contacts are normal, if less common, and IPA|/r̘/ is easily distinguishable from the other trills when they are all produced with the same number of contacts.

Retroflex consonants are sub-apical.Retroflex IPA|/ɽ͡r/ is more strongly trilled than the other rhotics. However, it is not purely retroflex. Although the tongue starts out in a sub-apical retroflex position, trilling involves the tip of the tongue, and this causes it to move forward toward the alveolar ridge. This means that the retroflex trill gives a preceding vowel retroflex coloration the way other retroflex consonants do, but that the vibration itself is not much different from the other trills.

ee also

* Voiceless retroflex lateral fricative
* Retroflex trill

Notes

Bibliography

* Emeneau, Murray B. 1984. "Toda Grammar and Texts". American Philosophical Society, Memoirs Series, 155. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
* Siniša Spajić, Peter Ladefoged, P. Bhaskararao, 1994. "The rhotics of Toda". In "UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 87: Fieldwork Studies of Targeted Languages II".


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