Hot answers tagged

77 votes
Accepted

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

"Tonal" is one of those words that everyone vaguely understands, but is annoyingly hard to actually define. Most people agree that English isn't "tonal". But there's not a clear dividing line between "...
user avatar
  • 52k
41 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 ...
user avatar
  • 4,642
20 votes

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

The usual account of the difference is that the location of "stress" differs between perMIT and PERmit. You cannot tell the difference between tone ans stress just based on phonetics (that is, "higher ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
17 votes

How does ghetto talk work in tonal languages?

Yes, your assumption on a correlation between pitch variance and vocabulary size is wrong. The use of pitch you speak of is called "prosody" in linguistics; different speaking groups in society may ...
user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

What is "˥˩" in the IPA?

It's not a sound, but a contour tone letter applying to the whole word (or syllable). This case specifically is a high falling tone, like the fourth tone in Mandarin. The Pumi example from the same ...
user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

How does ghetto talk work in tonal languages?

Lexical tones and prosody peacefully co-exist in these languages. The speakers intuitively use only those pitch contours that do not overlap with the lexical tones. Even more, sometimes an exaggerated ...
user avatar
  • 8,530
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 ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
12 votes

Can the IPA represent all languages' tones?

I don't think there are any attested languages that require more than five (5) phonemic levels of pitch to describe. However, there is one language Cori with six (6) surface pitch realizations, ...
user avatar
  • 1,010
11 votes
Accepted

Whispering in languages heavily dependent on pitch or phonation distinctions

Whispering excludes voicing from the linguistic inventory. Quite naturally, the decrease of the ability to comprehend a whispered speech depends on the language's original set of phonetic tools. Marc ...
user avatar
  • 8,530
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 ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
9 votes

How many different distinctive sounds can an average human make?

The notion of 'distinctive' sounds indicates that the discussion must be limited to phoneme inventories found in a single language. To do this we can consider the largest known inventories of ...
user avatar
8 votes

Are there documented languages that evolved from tonal to nontonal?

It is generally assumed that proto-Indo-European had a pitch accent, which survives in the notation of Classical Greek and of Vedic, but which has disappeared in Modern Greek as well as in Classical ...
user avatar
  • 22.6k
8 votes

What is the difference between formant frequencies and pitch frequency?

Yes, F0 (the fundamental frequency) is the acoustic correlate of pitch (which is a perceptual concept). The fundamental frequency F0 is also the first harmonic H1 of the sound. If F0 is 100 Hz, the ...
user avatar
  • 323
8 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 ...
user avatar
  • 4,280
8 votes

Number of tones in Cantonese vs. Mandarin and final stops

We have several phenomena that contribute to tonogenesis and tone changes. The few below are by no means an exhaustive list: loss of final consonants devoicing of initial voiced consonants vowel ...
user avatar
  • 5,543
7 votes
Accepted

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 (...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
6 votes

What are examples of Haudricourt's tonogenesis in Chinese?

The formation of the "four tone" system of Middle Chinese, which resulted in a historically attested distinction (see the various rime dictionaries compiled in the Sui, Tang and Song dynasties), is ...
user avatar
  • 5,543
6 votes

Are there documented languages that evolved from tonal to nontonal?

Korean was a tonal langauge until the 16th Century. In fact, even today the Gyeongsang dialect still uses tones. From my ancedotal experience, remanents of tone are still visible in the "standard" ...
user avatar
  • 2,905
6 votes
Accepted

Is Thai less tonal than Chinese or Vietnamese or Burmese?

This may not be the type of answer you were hoping for. You are correct in asserting that most tone languages can be analyzed from a phonological perspective as including words or syllables that lack ...
user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

The accentual (Tone) system of Ancient Greek

As for the last part of your question: Ancient Greek indeed had some rules of accentuation, despite the fact that the position and type of it was not always possible to be determined on phonetic basis ...
user avatar
  • 1,388
6 votes

Example of stress or tone on a consonant

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˨/ "...
user avatar
  • 52k
6 votes

Can the IPA represent all languages' tones?

The situation in Chori exemplifies a widespread problem with discussions of allophony, that "allophone" has different meanings. The classic definition of allophone is that two phonemes (or, tonemes) ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
6 votes

What is the most archetypal phonemic-tone system?

The notion of “most typical tone lnguage” can be understood in terms of specific properties that are most typically encountered in tone systems (not counting the number of speakers of each language, ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
6 votes
Accepted

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

Tone Marking using Distinct Consonants Orthographies that employ this form of tone marking are generally used in languages that developed tones from (usually voiced) consonants during their ...
user avatar
  • 5,543
5 votes
Accepted

What is autosegmental phonology?

Understand it against the theoretical background that an utterance is composed of a uniform set of some 20 phonetic features, one per segment, in a "solid" matrix, so an utterance with 30 segments has ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
5 votes
Accepted

How are Tone and Intonation languages different acoustically?

There is no dichotomy between tone languages and intonation languages. The available evidence indicates that all languages have intonational systems. Some languages have lexical stress, some have ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
5 votes
Accepted

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

The linguistic proxy for pitch is tone. As far as I know there are no languages where a tone distinction is not at all implemented via F0 differences, but there are very many where the distinction ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
5 votes

Understanding 5-tone register systems

It is unfortunate that the Wikipedia page promulgates the dubious distinction between register systems and contour systems. Mandarin Chinese has two tone registers (ergo the high-rising and low-rising ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
5 votes
Accepted

How complex contour tones get in languages

At the phonetic level, nobody really know how complex it "can" be. As you presumably know, F0 is a windowed function, and if we take a standard window of 10 msc., you can get a huge number of integer ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k
5 votes
Accepted

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

Insofar as you've put creaky and breathy voice in one bin, and a three-way distinction in "ATR" in a second, you have described a situation that doesn't exist in any known language. There ...
user avatar
  • 67.7k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible