On the Analysis of Tone in Mee (Ekari, Ekagi, Kapauku)

In this paper we present the tonal properties of Mee, a Wissel Lakes Papuan language known also as Ekari, Ekagi, and Kapauku. Since the previous accounts in the literature have been highly inadequate, allowing contradictory claims of tone, pitch-accent, and/or stress, we document the word-prosodic system and show that it is quite simple: Mee words can have a pitch drop from H to L either after the first mora or the second mora of the word. Corresponding to this simplicity, however, is a wide range of compatible interpretations. We consider how several analyses fare with respect to noun tone patterns, as well as verb tones, which are partly determined by the verb root, partly by inflectional features. From a typological perspective, the Mee system falls into the same category as Tokyo Japanese, Somali, Western Basque, and Mayo, which have also been subject to differing interpretations.