M.A. Theses in Linguistics at the University of North Dakota (Abstracts)
Daniel Tignor, 2018
A phonology of Hill (Kone-Tu) Asho
Asho (ISO 639-3: csh) is a Tibeto-Burman language in the Southern Chin branch of Kuki-Chin. It is spoken by about 170,000 people, primarily in western and west-central Myanmar (Simons & Fennig 2018). Although Asho received some early attention in the studies of Tibeto-Burman languages (Houghton 1892; Joorman 1906), it has remained mostly unstudied for the past century. Current data confirm the traditional distinction of two basic dialects of Asho (Hill and Plains), and this paper focuses on the Hill or “Kone-tu” dialect. The Hill dialect has 26 consonants (compared to 29 in the Plains dialect), and both dialects have 14 vowels (11 simple vowels and 3 diphthongs). There is a basic syllable structure of CCVC and two level tones (high and low). A two-tone system is unusual among Kuki-Chin languages, but this research shows how Asho’s tone supports and clarifies the subgrouping of Southern Chin languages.
Asho is notable for the numerous commonalities that it shares with Burmese vis-àvis more closely related Kuki-Chin languages. Most notably, both Asho and Burmese have palatalized velar plosives in front vowel environments and lost place distinctions on syllable-final consonants. The more conservative Hill dialect retains more Kuki-Chin characteristics than the Plains dialect, which has had significant contact with Burmese and shows stronger similarities with Burmese.
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