43 votes

Aren't all spoken languages tonal?

Most languages called tonal are more precisely described as having lexical tone. This means that tone conveys a meaningful distinction between different lexical items. E.g. in Mandarin, 妈 mā with a ...
Tristan's user avatar
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13 votes

Aren't all spoken languages tonal?

It has been a long-standing challenge to define the difference between tone and intonation, since both exploit fundamental frequency as a physical exponent. The difference is generally drawn by ...
user6726's user avatar
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11 votes
Accepted

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

There is no way to know without specific information from the source. In some traditions it means "toneless, unstressed". In some traditions, a specific tone is left out – it could be H, L, or Mid. It ...
user6726's user avatar
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9 votes

Is tone actually phonemic in Mandarin?

Tone actually is phonemic in Mandarin. For example, it is the only thing that distinguishes dā "to hang over", dá "to answer", dǎ "to beat" and dà "big". There ...
user6726's user avatar
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9 votes

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

There's an interesting answer when it comes to English as spoken by Cantonese speakers from Hong Kong, where tone can even distinguish words that would be homophones in English. Generally, stressed ...
jogloran's user avatar
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8 votes

Tonal languages: breath in -or- breath out?

All human languages use exhaled pronunciations and not inhaled pronunciations ("inhalation" i.e. breathing is talked about in phonetics as using "ingressive lung air": read a basic speech and hearing ...
user6726's user avatar
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7 votes
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In tonal languages, what is the tone relative to?

It it is relative to the "current range". That is determined by a number of things. First, individuals have a certain range as a consequence of their anatomy. Second, languages can specify (...
user6726's user avatar
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5 votes
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Limitations of the parrot speech?

I don't think issue has been explored in a systematic way, and it's not clear how it could be. Theoretically, one might record human language contrasts like tal, thal, ttal uttered by a parrot (how do ...
user6726's user avatar
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4 votes

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

IMO, we do not know a general answer, but anecdotally I believe that the intonational system of English used by second language speakers whose first language is tonal is non-randomly related to the ...
user6726's user avatar
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4 votes
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'Interstitial' tones in Thai

Tone sandhi is the term you are looking for. According to Wikipedia, Tone sandhi is a phonological change occurring in tonal languages, in which the tones assigned to individual words or morphemes ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
3 votes

Are there any tonal languages with syllable-final consonants that are not unreleased, or even aspirated?

Outside the more ‘traditional’ areas of tonal languages, Swedish and Norwegian both have tones (albeit employed to a lesser degree than stereotypically tonal languages, being only distinguished in ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
3 votes

Are there any tonal languages with syllable-final consonants that are not unreleased, or even aspirated?

Punjabi is normally analysed as being tonal. They're rare, but syllable-final released stops may be found in words like /hʊkuːmət/ which I'm given to understand means "the secondmost" or ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
3 votes

Is tone actually phonemic in Mandarin?

Even spoken in a robot-like tone in which all the four tones are reduced to a single one, it's still not difficult for a Mandarin speaker to understand the meaning of the utterance (provided the ...
Joe Shi's user avatar
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3 votes

Does a toneless syllable have no f0? How to distinguish a toneless syllable? Please help

Tonelessness has no particular inherent phonetic meaning. It is a phonological term and depends on a phonological analysis. At a phonetic level, what we have is pitch, shown by F0. We then perform a ...
Tristan's user avatar
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3 votes
Accepted

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

Attempts to define tone types (e.g. rising, falling; mid, high, low) in terms of phonetic properties don't go very far, and crash when you try to devise rigorous criteria that apply to all tones ...
user6726's user avatar
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3 votes

Tone Languages and distinguishing meaning

Many good points have been made in other answers and comments, but I think we need to unpack some of the assumptions (implicit and explicit) made in your question. ASSUMPTION 1: The world's ...
musicallinguist's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

How much weight do tones carry in differentiating languages/dialects?

The answer is it depends, just like any other phoneme. Changes in tonal system are fairly common, and examples of "speech varieties" that are still considered (more or less) the same by their own ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
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2 votes
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Can tonal languages be understood when whispered?

whispering changes the phonation, but not pitch of speech so I don't see any reason why tonal languages (with the possible exception of so-called register tones, which are really differences of ...
Tristan's user avatar
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2 votes

How much weight do tones carry in differentiating languages/dialects?

There are two ways of looking at the "weight" of tone: significance imputed by linguists doing an analysis, and degree to which it interferes with comprehension, for speakers. Based especially on ...
user6726's user avatar
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2 votes

'Interstitial' tones in Thai

Well, I am also very interested in the issue of tone sandhi in Thai, as I have just started learning Thai. I do speak Mandarin, and have spent 15 years studying the language, and am very familiar with ...
Alan's user avatar
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2 votes
Accepted

What might account for different numbers of formants in plots of male and female speakers pronouncing the same vowel?

The traditional account is that formants frequencies are based on tube length, with resonances being at those frequencies corresponding to 4L, 4/3L, 4/5L, 4/7L... Formants shift up or down as the tube ...
user6726's user avatar
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2 votes

Tone Languages and distinguishing meaning

Meaning of different sentences is frequently signaled only by tonal differences, in tone languages. An example is the contrast in Shona between munhu akáríma "the person who plowed", munhu akarima "...
user6726's user avatar
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2 votes

Could the precursor to Pre-Proto-Quechua have been a monosyllabic tonal language?

This falls under the historical reconstruction of tone - not an easy job, and even more difficult if there are no contemporaneous records of the language or of discourse about the language that have ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
  • 7,466
1 vote

Are there any tonal languages with syllable-final consonants that are not unreleased, or even aspirated?

Tibetan (at least most dialects) is normally considered tonal, and has at least a labial stop that's usually released in the syllable-final position. Depending on dialect and how the speaker is trying ...
R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE's user avatar
1 vote

In tonal languages, what is the tone relative to?

As others have remarked, pitch level (high, medium, low) is defined in terms of the natural voice range of a given individual. However, in many tonal languages, “tone” encompasses not only pitch, but ...
fdb's user avatar
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1 vote

Do all tonal languages have tone sandhi?

"Tone sandhi" is a vague terms so without a definition of what it is, I don't see any way to know. The term is usually used to refer to phonological changes of category that apply at the ...
user6726's user avatar
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