In linguistics, upstep is a phonemic or phonetic upward shift of tone between the syllables or words of a tonal language. It is best known in the tonal languages of Sub-Saharan Africa. Upstep is a much rarer phenomenon than its counterpart, downstep.
The symbol for upstep in the International Phonetic Alphabet is a superscript upward pointing arrow [ꜛ]. However, it is common, especially in the early research, to find a superscript (or sometimes subscript) inverted exclamation mark [ꜞ], because of typographical constraints.
- [túránꜛtʃí nè]
- It's English.
Upstep is superficially similar to pitch reset, which is nearly universal in the prosody of the world's languages. The most common prosodic contours occur in chunks with gradually declining pitch (here transcribed as a global fall, [↘]). Between such chunks, the pitch resets:
- Been there. Done that.
- [ꜛbɪn ðɛɹ↘ ꜛdɐn ðæt↘ ]
Upstep occurs in various Sub-Saharan African languages, for example:[are these phonetic or phonemic?]
Upstep also occurs in at least one Central American language:
- Downstep, which is more commonly phonemic.
- Puech, Gilbert (1990). Upstep in a Bantu tone language. Pholia 5.175-1186.
- Puech 1990
- Snider, Keith Tonal 'upstep' in Engenni. Journal of West African Languages 27:1.3-15.
- Hyman, Larry (1993). Register tones and tonal geometry. In ed. Harry van der Hulst & Keith L. Snider, The Phonology of Tone: The Representation of Tonal Register, 85-89. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
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- Snider, Keith L. (1990). Tonal Upstep in Krachi: Evidence for a Register Tier. In The geometry and features of tone. Dallas: SIL and University of Texas at Arlington.
- Hyman, Larry (1993). Register tones and tonal geometry. In ed. Harry van der Hulst & Keith L. Snider, The Phonology of Tone: The Representation of Tonal Register, 89-94. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
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- Mellick, Christina (2012). Tone in the Mbelime verb system. Dallas, TX: Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics. Masters thesis, p. 82-84
- Wilhelmsen, Vera (2013). Upstep in Mbugwe: a description of upstep in Mbugwe verbs. Paper presented at the 5th International Conference on Bantu Languages, Paris.
- Wilhelmsen 2013
- Kandybowicz, Jason (2008). The Grammar of Repetition: Nupe grammar at the syntax–phonology interface. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Yip, Moira (2002). Tone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 217-219