The Workshop "Tone: Theory and Practice", organized by Heriberto Avelino, Claudia Schmidt (MPI-EVA) and Ian Maddieson will take place at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig), September 28-29, 2012.
Almost half of the languages of the world are tonal (Hyman, 2007;
Yip, 2002). Recent research within linguistics as well as from
different fields ranging from cognitive neurosciences to genetics and
physiology have widened our understanding of the tone systems. This
workshop aims to contribute to answer the underlying question of what
is a possible human language through the study of tone from the theory
and practice of these diverse displines.
We firmly believe that a more comprehensive and fruitful research program will emerge from the empirical study of individual languages and the comparison of their properties which can be further explained by theoretical findings from other disciplines. Only this approach guarantees that the proposed formal universals and the theoretical basis underlying the tone systems of the world's languages would represent and conform to the actual traits found in the set of known human languages.
We hope that the conference will allow us to make progress by bringing together scholars from different subfields of linguistics as well as other disciplines who are concerned with the the linguistic use of tone to present new insights into its nature.