THE PLAUSIBILITY OF TONAL EVOLUTION IN THE MALAY DIALECT SPOKEN IN THAILAND: EVIDENCE FROM AN ACOUSTIC STUDY
The F0 values of vowels following voiceless consonants are higher than those of vowels following voiced consonants; high vowels have a higher F0 than low vowels. It has also been found that when high vowels follow voiced consonants, the F0 values decrease. In contrast, low vowels following voiceless consonants show increasing F0 values. In other words, the voicing of initial consonants has been found to counterbalance the intrinsic F0 values of high and low vowels (House and Fairbanks 1953, Lehiste and Peterson 1961, Lehiste 1970, Laver 1994, Teeranon 2006). To test whether these three findings are applicable to a disyllabic language, the F0 values of high and low vowels following voiceless and voiced consonants were studied in a Malay dialect of the Austronesian language family spoken in Pathumthani Province, Thailand. The data was collected from three male informants, aged 30-35. The Praat program was used for acoustic analysis. The findings revealed the influence of the voicing of initial consonants on the F0 of vowels to be greater than that of the influence of vowel height. Evidence from this acoustic study shows the plausibility for the Malay dialect spoken in Pathumthani to become a tonal language by the influence of initial consonants rather by the influence of the high-low vowel dimension.
Key words: Tonal Evolution, the Malay Dialect