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Tone sandhi is the process by which the nominal tones of syllables or words change based on the surrounding context.

I know that Mandarin Chinese and Thai have tone sandhi - but is this process universal within tonal languages?

  • I found some claims that Vietnamese doesn't have tone sandhi but also a paper on Vietnamese tone sandhi in reduplication - so I thought I'd ask the experts! – hippietrail Mar 12 '13 at 1:58
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    From what I'm seeing it's a matter of debate whether northern Thai dialects have tone sandhi as all references I see to tone sandhi with respect to Thai refer to the southern dialects. – acattle Mar 12 '13 at 2:01
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    I suspect it depends on the tone-bearing unit (TBU). In some languages the TBU is the syllable, in some it's the word. I've worked with a Papuan language of the latter type which did not appear to have any tone sandhi. – Gaston Ümlaut Oct 16 '13 at 0:41
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    Vietnamese tones never change. Reduplications in từ láy may make the tones slightly change but the whole is considered a word, and I don't know if there's a rule for tone change en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduplication#Vietnamese – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Oct 18 '13 at 5:20
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    Besides, there's a difference in tone when counting in Vietnamese where "mười" becomes "mươi" if following a smaller number, and "một" becomes "mốt" if following "mươi", but I think it's considered a single word too. Maybe asking here would help – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Oct 22 '14 at 18:03

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