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76

"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 "tonal" and "not tonal"; it's more of a spectrum. At one end are the truly tonal languages. In these languages, every syllable/vowel/tone-bearing-unit gets one ...


20

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 F0" does not mean "H tone", because the primary phonetic correlate of stress is higher pitch). There is a misguided tendency to use Chinese as the standard of ...


17

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 use different levels of pitch in their prosody, or even different prosodic melodies, without any predefined relationship to vocabulary or social standing (for ...


16

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 table has another example: [pʙ̩˥], a word with a high register tone.


15

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 tone may serve as an intonation, and this is used in "ghetto talk". Tonal contours in normal speech Native speakers often dilute the lexical tones in ...


12

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, although it can be analyzed with a tone inventory of three level tones. I'm looking for some more non-Wikipedia sources and a better explanation of the situation in ...


11

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 Ettlinger, linguistics PhD at Berkeley, shows that languages that intensively use voicedness and lexical tones are the most difficult to whisper in (from the ...


11

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 could mean "the same as what comes before" (the Christaller system, used in some African languages).


10

Let me speak only about Thai language and what rules govern the loanwords. Other languages may well "behave" the other way. is it generally true that the "closest" tones will be borrowed as well as the "closest" phonemes? Short answer: Yes, but not always for phonemes; Usually No for tones. I would also say that it's useful to know how words borrowed ...


9

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 contrastive (i.e. which I'm taking 'distinctive' to mean for the purposes of this answer) consonants, vowels and tonal features. Consonant inventories According to ...


8

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 Sanskrit and the Middle and New Indo-Aryan languages. The IE pitch accent survives at least partially in Lithuanian.


8

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 second harmonic H2 would be at 200 Hz, the third H3 at 300 Hz, the fourth H4 at 400 Hz, and so on. Vowel formants are located at different harmonics depending on ...


8

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 syllables in English will come out with tone 1 (contour 55), which is high level tone. Unstressed syllables are of two types: final unstressed syllables end up ...


7

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 (in a social sense, not a strictly grammatical sense) that the range exploited in speech should be relatively high or relatively low. Variants of such whole-...


6

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 meant to have derived from the "cheshirisation" of the final consonants of Later Old Chinese. Finding the "reflexes" of these ancient consonants requires ...


6

Moira Yip discusses this issue in Chapter 2 of her book Tone. The short answer: four, possibly five. HOWEVER, this question is not as straightforward to answer as one might think; tones can be defined in terms of phonological contrast--like phonemes--or phonetic contrasts--like phones. Just like segmental phonemes, tones are often analyzed as surfacing ...


6

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" Seoul dialect as well (mostly related to length of articulation), but they aren't ubiquitous among speakers and are not taught to Korean Second Langauge learners.


6

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 a specification for tone. Some examples: Mandarin can be analyzed as having "neutral" tone specified on things like the sentence-final particle -le. Many ...


6

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 (as in e.g. Vedic Sanskrit and contrary to Latin). Greek had some ground rules concerning accent placement, for example the stress was allowed to be placed ...


6

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 ...


6

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) are allophones iff the variants appear in surface-complementary environments. This is not the case in Chori: all 6 tones are surface-contrastive. The alternative ...


6

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, as a way to get Chinese languages to be “most typical”). This does include so-called pitch-accent languages because very many tone systems have been labeled ...


5

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 lexical tone, and some appear to have no form of word "prominence" (Ethiopic Semitic, for example). Pitch-accent is a dubious category, which has largely been ...


5

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 600 feature specifications. Autosegmental phonology holds that the segment actually subdivides into autonomous "autosegments", for example (in Goldsmith's ...


5

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 includes things other than F0. The best-known examples of that are SE Asian tone languages like Vietnamese, where tonal differences involve amplitude, phonation ...


5

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 tones); many Bantu languages have contrasts in level, rising and falling tones, but also don't employ downstep and have only two lexical registers. You may ...


5

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 vectors for durations up to 400 msc. But it's physically impossible to change F0 from 100 Hz to 400 Hz within the course of 10 or 20 msc. There are also very ...


5

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 documented written history. Hence these tone-marking consonants were usually markers of voicing, and so it is debatable whether this truly counts as dedicated tone ...


5

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 are languages with a two-way contrast which might be described as normal vs. Retracted Tongue Root (certain Tungusic languages), or normal vs. Advanced Tongue ...


4

In Thai language tone is ALWAYS preserved when singing, some of the most exceptionally composed pieces will even use this to their advantage by applying a a lyric that will in turn producing a pleasing melody which add dimensions to the existing song. From what I heard, there are about 3 generations of a class of music currently employ in Thai language. ...


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