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 , ...


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 '18 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. Sep 23 '18 at 3:41
  • Also, wondering if you have seen accents (stresses) on consonants anywhere. Sep 23 '18 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. Sep 23 '18 at 1:43
  • @LancePollard If there are any I don't know them, but I can't rule it out.
    – Draconis
    Sep 23 '18 at 1:44
  • I think tone is often analyzed as a property of morae rather than of syllables. Sep 23 '18 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 '18 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 '18 at 1:55

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