Wondering if there is such thing as stress on a consonant, e.g. , , , , ʃ́... If so, what the example language would be. I haven't seen any on Wikipedia.

Same thing for tone, I haven't seen any tones specified for consonants, only vowels. So using pinyin, maybe like , ...

  • It looks like Chinese can have it on [ḿ].
    – Lance
    Sep 23, 2018 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


An example of tone on an obstruent is Logoori [kʊ̀.d́.dèè.kà] 'to cook it (class 11)'; [d́ꜜ.díi.dʒi] 'wall', where acute accent is H tone and grave is L tone. I should point out though that from a theoretical perspective, stresses and tones are not "on" segments, they are on prosodic elements which may be exhaustively characterized by some string of segments, including the case where a syllable or mora only has one segment. The argument that [kʊ̀.d́.dèè.kà] is syllabified that way and not [kʊ̀d́.dèè.kà] is based on the two-mora limit on syllables in the language and the fact that a moraic consonant can follow a long vowel (does not cause shortening).

  • Ooh, fascinating! Would you mind syllabifying that?
    – Draconis
    Sep 23, 2018 at 1:55
  • This is great, thank you! A little advanced for me, having difficulty parsing the [kʊ̀d́dèèkà] and [d́ꜜdíiji], not sure how to pronounce it (if that is IPA or something else). It looks like there is an accent on the d with [d́]. Wondering if that is the tone. Wondering how it would be pronounced, maybe if you could explain that part. I don't see how a [d] could have a tone shift during its pronunciation, so it must just be a tone shift relative to the surrounding letters.
    – Lance
    Sep 23, 2018 at 3:41
  • Also, wondering if you have seen accents (stresses) on consonants anywhere.
    – Lance
    Sep 23, 2018 at 3:42

It depends what you mean by "consonant". In Swahili you can see stress on nasals, as in mtu /ˈm̩.tu/ "person". In Cantonese, similarly, you see nasals with tone: 五 ng5 /ŋ˩˧/ "five" versus 悟 ng6 /ŋ˨/ "to realize".

However, this only applies to syllabic nasals: nasals that can form the core of a syllable. And one common definition of "vowel" is "syllabic sound" or "sound that can form the core of a syllable". So by this definition, the first sound in mtu is actually a vowel.

As a general rule, stress and tone apply to syllables rather than to individual phonemes. So in a word like English "ample" /ˈæm.pəl/, the /m/ can be called "stressed" just as much as the /æ/ is: there's no instantaneous drop in loudness and pitch once the vowel is finished and the consonant begins.

  • "As a general rule." Wondering if there are any specific cases though that break the rule, or if that is what your first example was.
    – Lance
    Sep 23, 2018 at 1:43
  • @LancePollard If there are any I don't know them, but I can't rule it out.
    – Draconis
    Sep 23, 2018 at 1:44
  • I think tone is often analyzed as a property of morae rather than of syllables. Sep 23, 2018 at 1:53
  • 1
    @sumelic Fair, but is there a universal definition of morae? I generally think of morae as a language-specific division.
    – Draconis
    Sep 23, 2018 at 1:54
  • Different things may be "moraic" or not in different languages, but a typical example of what I was thinking of would be e.g. a language that has high-low and low-high contour tones that only occur on long vowels or diphthongs, whereas short monophthongs can only be high or low. Analyses where such contour tones are analyzed as being a high tone followed by a low tone, or vice versa, seems to be possible and commonly proposed for many languages, so I don't think the phenomenon is all that language-specific. Sep 23, 2018 at 1:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.