Nov 202012

Language Documentation & Conservation 

Call Deadline: 15-Apr-2013

Call for Papers: How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman to appear in Language Documentation and Conservation

Tones in Connected Speech

Tones in Connected Speech (Photo credit: sinosplice)

We expect the volume to be a comprehensive collection of the most effective methods for documenting, describing, and analyzing tone languages.

Contributions will focus on the methodology for studying tone languages, including elicitation practice, stages of description, descriptive pitfalls, and so on. Papers that simply present and analyze tone data are out of scope; a substantive methodological contribution must be made.

Appropriate topics and approaches include:

  • Management: approaches to elicitation and data management specific to tone; getting started; working with native-speaker linguists
  • Documentation: ways to document the tone system of a language which minimally prejudice the later description and analysis; ways to study a tone language using archived materials
  • Narrative: an instructive and reflective study of a language
  • Computational: computational methods that support tonal investigations
  • Typological: how to leverage knowledge about related languages
  • Phonetic: how to combine impressionistic and instrumental observations; appropriate ways to incorporate recordings; accountability of transcriptions
  • Diachronic: how to study the evolution of tone systems; how to reconstruct a proto tone system
  • Development: how to contribute to a linguistic community’s expressed need for support with orthography decisions and effective ways to teach tone marking
  • Data: a systematic presentation of tone data which highlights a methodological issue

Additional ideas of topics and approaches may be found at

This special issue has grown out of two workshops on tone languages (Berkeley February 2011, Canberra December 2011), and it continues the focus of those workshops on methodology.

Submissions are invited from workshop participants and non-participants alike.

The deadline for submissions is 15 April 2013. For information about the submission process, please consult the website of Language Documentation and Conservation, at

For updated information about the publication, please see

Suggested Books

This book brings together a collection of papers focusing on the tonal systems of the Bantu languages of sub-Saharan Africa.

The sounds of language can be divided into consonants, vowels, and tones–the use of pitch to convey meaning. Seventy percent of the world’s languages use pitch in this way.

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