Tone and accent in Oklahoma Cherokee


    • Uchihara, Hiroto


Tone and accent in Oklahoma Cherokee

Hiroto Uchihara

(Oxford studies of endangered languages)

Oxford University Press, 2016


Tone & accent in Oklahoma Cherokee

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Includes bibliographical references and index



This book examines the tone and accent of Oklahoma Cherokee, in which six possible pitch patterns can occur on a syllable: low, high, low-high, high-low, lowfall, and superhigh. It provides a comprehensive description and analysis of these patterns, examining their distribution, their source, the principles that determine their positions, and the nature of tonal alternations. The tone and accent of Oklahoma Cherokee displays some typologically unusual features, such as the glottal stop as the historical source for both high and lowfall tones, the coexistence of tonal and accentual systems, the existence of multiple accentual systems, and the morphosyntactic use of accents. Studies on tones in general have focused mainly on analytical languages or languages with little morphology, but Cherokee is unique in that it is polysynthetic at the same time as tonal. The emergence of tones in Oklahoma Cherokee is recent and its source is easily traceable, but the language has already developed a complex tonal alignment and tonal phonology. Hiroto Uchihara's description of tone and accent in Oklahoma Cherokee will not only contribute to a deeper understanding of the sound system of Cherokee, but will also advance the historical study of Iroquoian languages as a whole, and the typological study of tonal and accentual systems more generally.


  • Preface
  • List of Abbreviations
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Segmental inventory
  • 3. Phonotactics and syllable structure
  • 4. Overview of the tones and accents
  • 5. Lowfall tone
  • 6. Tonal phonology of H1
  • 7. The source of H1
  • 8. Historical source of H1 alignment
  • 9. High tone on the final mora of the stem (H2)
  • 10. Floating high tone from pre-pronominal prefixes (H3)
  • 11. Superhigh accent
  • 12. Typological properties of Cherokee tone and accent
  • Appendix A: On tonicity
  • Appendix B: Summary of phonological process and constraints
  • References
  • Index

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