Questions tagged [tone]

The phonemic use of pitch.

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42
votes
3answers
11k views

Is English tonal for some words, like "permit"?

I have heard the difference between tone and intonation described in the following way: Tone is when the pitch of a word determines its meaning. Intonation is when the pitch of a word conveys its ...
20
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3answers
3k views

Can the IPA represent all languages' tones?

The IPA's current tone system can show five different tone levels, and any contours formed from them. Is there any language for which this is insufficient? In other words, is there any (known, ...
19
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1answer
901 views

How do tone languages assign phonemic tones to loanwords from non-tone languages?

How do tone languages assign phonemic tones to loanwords from non-tone languages? For example, does such assignment vary according to the phonological context in each loanword? Alternatively, does ...
16
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4answers
7k views

How do tones work in music sung in tonal languages, such as Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese?

I have not yet studied tonal languages, so it might be understandable, but when I listen to Chinese music, for example, I'm unable to perceive tones. This makes me think they are partially or ...
13
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2answers
2k views

How does ghetto talk work in tonal languages?

Among historically low income/education groups in the US and in my native Mexico City, "ghetto talk" is heavy on the use of pitch to convey meaning. I've always attributed this to people compensating ...
13
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4answers
1k views

Why do tone and simple syllable structure appear to be correlated?

I happen to have been struggling to learn a bit of Mandarin Chinese lately, and it's been my first attempt to really deal with tones to any significant extent. I find distinguishing tones quite ...
13
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4answers
631 views

Are there documented languages that evolved from tonal to nontonal?

There is a theory about tonogenesis for the Chinese language, thus Chinese had once a more complex syllable-structure and no tones. In the course of time, the syllable structure became less complex ...
13
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1answer
336 views

Whispering in languages heavily dependent on pitch or phonation distinctions

When whispering in English all (segmental) phonological distinctions can – as far as I am aware – still be made, which may be due to redundancy (or simply because voicing is optional). I even ...
13
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2answers
495 views

If two syllables in Mandarin have the same vowels but different tones, can the syllables be said to rhyme?

If two syllables in Mandarin have the same vowels but different tones, can the syllables be said to rhyme according to native speakers? I was tempted to ask this question about all tone languages, ...
11
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1answer
633 views

Are tones "preserved" when borrowing between unrelated tonal languages?

Let's consider just borrowing between unrelated, national/standardized tonal languages, just in case borrowing between related languages might be a special case and borrowing between non standardized ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Do native speakers of language with lexical tone have difficulty learning another language with more or different lexical tones?

Have there been any studies done on say Mandarin native speakers who learn as adults other languages which have more lexical tones or which have lexical tones different to Mandarin? I believe for ...
9
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4answers
3k views

Why are only yes/no questions asked with a rising tone?

There is a rule used almost subconsciously by almost all English speakers (and I'm sure it applies to many other languages too) which is that yes/no questions are asked ending with a rising tone, and ...
8
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1answer
1k views

What is "˥˩" in the IPA?

While reading the Wikipedia page on voiced bilabial trill, I came across a transcription in the occurrence section which looks like: [tʙ̩˥˩] The word is from Lizu language and means 'bean'. What is ...
8
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2answers
259 views

How do tonal-language speakers use tonality when speaking non-tonal languages?

First post. Wanted to title it "Speaking in tones," but that's not very informative. Long ago, I learned a little about talking drums and whistle speech as long-range communication tools ...
7
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4answers
1k views

Tone Languages and distinguishing meaning

I am new to learning all of this and had a couple of questions. Tone languages use pitch to distinguish words. For example, in Thai nā with a mid-tone meaning "rice paddy". nǎ with a rising tone ...
6
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7answers
24k views

How many different distinctive sounds can an average human make? [closed]

If we wanted to create an all new alphabet composed of as much letters as possible, with each letter corresponding to one distinctive sound. What's the maximum amount of letters we could have? Oh and ...
6
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2answers
133 views

In tonal languages, what is the tone relative to?

According to https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_language A tone language, or tonal language, is a language in which words can differ in tones (like pitches in music) in addition to consonants and ...
6
votes
2answers
475 views

The accentual (Tone) system of Ancient Greek

This question is presented with the help of the sources from Wikipedia. The Greek diacritics were introduced by Aristophanes of Byzantium, which became standard in the Middle Ages. My question is: ...
6
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1answer
1k views

How do sentence intonation and (syllable-based) tone interact in tone languages?

Tone languages use intonation to distinguish words. For example, in Mandarin Chinese mā with a mid tone means mom mǎ with a rising tone means horse Intonation languages do not make such distinctions....
5
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3answers
731 views

Most tones contrasting by pitch and not just contour?

Lately I've been wondering a lot whether or not there's an upper limit on how many contrasting tones a language can have that differ primarily by pitch difference and not so much by the shape or ...
5
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2answers
154 views

Do any languages use distinct graphemes for vowels with different tones?

As far as I know, most writing systems for tonal languages fall into one of four groups: The writing system is not phonetic (e.g. Han logograms) Tone is not generally indicated in writing (e.g. many ...
4
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2answers
5k views

What is the difference between formant frequencies and pitch frequency?

Sorry if this question sounds a bit basic. I haven’t had a solid grounding in phonology/phonetics yet so I am a bit confused about these concepts. We’re trying to build a model which studies certain ...
4
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0answers
584 views

Mandarin Chinese syllable and tone frequency (not character frequency)

There's plenty of good resources on Chinese character frequency available. But I'm wondering about syllable frequency independent of characters, and also tone frequency both separate and in ...
3
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2answers
131 views

What is the most archetypal phonemic-tone system?

As user6726 put it in this answer: There is a misguided tendency to use Chinese as the standard of comparison for tone system, but actually Chinese is the best known but one of the least-...
3
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1answer
1k views

Is Thai less tonal than Chinese or Vietnamese or Burmese?

I'm curious about the comparative reliance on tonality in Asian languages. By this I mean not the number of tones, but the frequency of tonal versus non-tonal words in communication. (When I say non-...
3
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1answer
166 views

What’s a good example a language phenomena in which f0 is NOT correlated to pitch?

It’s standard doctrine that “pitch is perceived f0”, and that f0 is phonetic and corresponds to pitch which is phonological ... no problem there. (Even if this is a simplification) But I wonder if ...
3
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1answer
61 views

How did Goldsmith account for phenomena otherwise explicable with the OCP?

How did Goldsmith account for the OCP using Autosegmental Phonology? I suppose he couldn't accept it because OCP prohibits identical segments (which don't exist, as such in Autosegmental Phonology)...
3
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1answer
345 views

On Lao triphthongs / tones / orthography

Information on the Lao language is a bit patchy, especially when you start getting a little deeper and find gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in and between sources on the Internet. Lao vowel ...
3
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1answer
174 views

Tone associated to segments other than vowels

Are there languages in which lexical tone can associate to semivowels or glottal stops, or does tone ALWAYS associate only to vowels when it is realized in a spoken word?
3
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1answer
85 views

What kind of experimental procedures can be used to determine tone values (1-5)?

Unlike vowel formant frequencies, tones are trickier to determine, since the F0 of a TBU may depend on a lot of factors, such as the speaker's age, gender, mood, etc. Thus, it's quite often the case ...
3
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2answers
281 views

Can you put tone on any syllable?

I notice that Mandarin has a very simple inventory of sounds and set of possible combinations, whereas some of the languages I'm familiar with which permit more consonant clusters and other ...
3
votes
1answer
764 views

Do all tonal languages have tone sandhi?

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 ...
3
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0answers
89 views

How is tone assigned to loanwords borrowed from non-tonal languages? [duplicate]

In a tonal language like Cantonese, how is stress assigned to loanwords (from languages which don't have a tone distinction)? For example, Hong Kong Cantonese has various words borrowed from English, ...
2
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1answer
683 views

What are examples of Haudricourt's tonogenesis in Chinese?

As far as I know, tonogenesis occurs when consonants merge. The merging of initial consonants results in register tones and the merging of final consonants results in contour tones. What are concrete ...
2
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1answer
382 views

Is there any natural language having minimal pairs over tongue root position?

I am building a conlang, which is very likely going to be an isolating language. As such, I decided to make it a tonal language. But there is a problem. This language is to be sung very often, so ...
2
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1answer
5k views

How are Tone and Intonation languages different acoustically?

On what aspects Tonal languages differ from Intonation languages when analyzing them acoustically? On intonation and tone: Jones (1960) - "the variations which take place in the pitch of the ...
2
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2answers
255 views

Chinese 3rd tone: cross-linguistic comparison

I'm wondering about the rate of occurence of complex tone contours like the Mandarin Chinese third tone, the falling-rising tone. By "complex" I mean that its contour isn't simply a rising, falling, ...
2
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1answer
1k views

What is autosegmental phonology?

I am an armchair music theorist and trying to read about John Goldsmith's theory of autosegmental phonology. Can someone summarize the basic principles behind his theory for a linguistic layman?
2
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1answer
168 views

high tone retention

Is high tone retention typologically true? When one of the two adjacent vowels at a word boundary undergoes deletion, one of the two tones also undergoes deletion. And it is said that high tone is ...
2
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1answer
260 views

How is "rising tone" the same in all tonal languages?

If we compare two unrelated languages with lexical tone, where both languages have the same number of tonal contrasts, are there any universals/tendencies regarding: the kinds of tonal contrasts (...
2
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1answer
41 views

(How) can autosegmental theories of tone account for pitch contours with more changes of direction than there are segments?

I had been interested in the idea that tone contours are due to practical limitations in following an underlying target path that is always a straight line, as proposed by Xu. However, this theory ...
2
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1answer
212 views

In what tonal language is tone uncontroversially suprasegmental and not segmental?

So, it recently came to my attention that Chinese tone is not necessary a suprasegmental feature like I assumed. It seems that some claim it can be analyzed as being subsegmental. If I am interested ...
2
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1answer
84 views

Searching for the rules of tone sandhi in Lao

Most tonal languages have tone sandhi, which consists of rules whereby the standard/default/dictionary tones of words/syllables change due to which tones occur in adjacent words/syllables. But I am ...
2
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0answers
96 views

What are common tone patterns for syllables in conversational Tibetan?

Tibetan alphabet is an abugida divided by groups of four syllables in tonally descending order. The syllables can combine into ligatures with other syllables by either writing a (part of a) syllable ...
1
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1answer
289 views

What does the absence of a tonal marking on a word in a tonal language imply?

I'm not a linguist and only studying a linguistic subject as an elective so I hope this makes sense: If I've determined a language is tonal based off the numbers assigned to each word, how am I to ...
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2answers
580 views

Types of Sound Variations (Like Accents and Tones) in Languages

So in Spanish and other languages there are accents like: café tú And in Chinese there are tone shifts as in this graphic: The tones are accounted for in English / Romanization by adding accent ...
1
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1answer
522 views

Understanding 5-tone register systems

After reading through the Tone Wikipedia page, I get the gist of it. Basically there are register tone systems (like Bantu languages) and contour tone systems (like Mandarin Chinese). In contour tone ...
1
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1answer
164 views

Number of tones in Cantonese vs. Mandarin and final stops

The emergence of tones in Chinese languages (and actually most tonal languages) is, roughly speaking, due to the loss of final consonnants of syllables at an earlier stage of the language. In ...
1
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1answer
129 views

Will the pitch of a vowel influence its formant values?

Since that the F0 i.e. the pitch is the first harmonic and all formants are the i-th harmonics, is it possible that the formants of a vowel in a high tone are higher than those in a lower tone? For ...
1
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1answer
86 views

What impact does it bring if the tone values of a tone language are generally lowered?

Tones in a tone language have values marked by 1 to 5. If a sound change happens by which tone values become lowered in some cases, e.g. the standard value of a tone in Mandarin is 214, while the ...