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Encyclopedia > Tone (linguistics)

Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish words. All languages use intonation to express emphasis, contrast, emotion, or other such elements, but not every language uses tone to distinguish lexical meaning. When this occurs, tones are phonemes (discrete speech sounds), just like consonants and vowels, and they are occasionally referred to as tonemes. This article or section uses Ruby annotation. ... Pitch is the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. ... Intonation, in linguistics, is the variation of pitch when speaking. ... In human language, a phoneme is the theoretical representation of a sound. ...


A slight majority of the languages in the world are tonal. However, most Indo-European languages, which include the majority of the most widely-spoken languages in the world today, are not tonal, with the exception of the Indo-Aryan language Punjabi. Proto-Indo-European Indo-European studies The Indo-European languages include some 443 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects spoken by about three billion people, including most of the major language families of Europe and western Asia, which belong to a single superfamily. ... Punjabi (also Panjabi; in Gurmukhī, Panjābī in Shāhmukhī) is the language of the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. ...


The way in which tone is used in a particular language leads to the language being classified either as a tonal language or a pitch accent language. In a prototypical tonal language such as Chinese, the tone of each syllable can be independent of the other syllables in the word, and many words are differentiated only by the tones associated with them. In many African tone languages, since words are longer, there are fewer minimal pairs for tone, and tone may not be assigned to every syllable of a word. In a pitch accent language, there is typically only one tone-accented syllable or mora per word. For example Somali has one high tone per word. In Japanese, pitch accent refers to a drop in pitch; words contrast depending on which syllable this drop follows. Some words in Japanese contain no pitch accent at all. While many linguists maintain a difference between tone languages and pitch accent languages, the linguist Larry Hyman has argued that there is no prototypical pitch accent language and that all languages that use tone phonemically should be classified as tone languages. A Tonal language is a language that uses tone to distinguish words. ... Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have a distinct meaning. ... For the computer operating system, see Syllable (operating system). ... Mora (plural moras or morae) is a unit of sound used in phonology that determines syllable weight (which in turn determines stress or timing) in some languages. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ...

Contents

Tonal languages

Languages that are tonal include:

  • Some of the Sino-Tibetan languages, including the numerically most important ones. Most forms of Chinese are strongly tonal (an exception is Shanghainese, where the system has collapsed to one of pitch accent); while some of the Tibetan languages, including the standard languages of Lhasa and Bhutan and Burmese are more marginally tonal. However, Nepal Bhasa, the original language of Kathmandu, is non-tonal, as are several Tibetan dialects and many or most of the other Tibeto-Burman languages.
  • In the Austro-Asiatic family, Vietnamese and its closest relatives are strongly tonal. Other languages of this family, such as Mon, Khmer and the Munda languages, are non-tonal.
  • The entire Tai-Kadai family, spoken mainly in China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, is strongly tonal.
  • The entire Hmong-Mien languages family is strongly tonal.
  • Many Afro-Asiatic languages in the Chadic, Cushitic and Omotic families have register-tone systems, such as Chadic Hausa. Many of the Omotic tone systems are quite complex. However, many other languages, such as Cushitic Somali, have pitch-accent systems rather than tone.
  • The vast majority of Niger-Congo languages, such as Ewe, Maninka, Bamana, Yoruba, Lingala and the Nguni languages, have register-tone systems. The Bantu languages also fall under this group. Many of the Kru systems are quite complex. Notable non-tonal languages are Swahili, Fula and Wolof.
  • Possibly all Nilo-Saharan languages have register-tone systems.
  • All Khoisan languages in southern Africa have contour-tone systems.
  • Slightly more than half of the Athabaskan languages, such as Navajo, have simple register-tone systems (languages in California, Oregon and a few in Alaska are excluded), but the languages that have tone fall into two groups that are mirror images of each other.
  • All Oto-Manguean languages are tonal. Most have register-tone systems, others contour systems and many have combined systems.
  • The Kiowa-Tanoan languages.
  • Scattered languages of the Amazon basin, usually with rather simple register-tone systems.
  • Scattered languages of New Guinea, usually with rather simple register-tone systems.
  • Some European-based creole languages, such as Saramaccan and Papiamentu, have tone from their African substratum languages.
  • In Yeniseian languages, tone is comcomitant with other features and it depends on the interpretation whether these languages are considered tonal or not.

The vast majority of Austronesian languages are non-tonal, but a small number have developed tone. No tonal language has been reported from Australia. With other languages we simply don't know. For example, the Ket language has been described as having up to eight tones by some investigators, as having four tones by others, but by some as having no tone at all. In cases such as these, the classification of a language as tonal may depend on the researcher's interpretation of what tone is. For instance, the Burmese language has phonetic tone, but each of its three tones is accompanied by a distinctive phonation (creaky, murmured or plain vowels). It could be argued either that the tone is incidental to the phonation, in which case Burmese would not be phonemically tonal, or that the phonation is incidental to the tone, in which case it would be considered tonal. Something similar appears to be the case with Ket. The Sino-Tibetan languages form a putative language family composed of Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia. ... Shanghainese (上海言话 [] in Shanghainese), sometimes referred to as the Shanghai dialect, is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai. ... Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... The Tibetan language is spoken primarily by the Tibetan people who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering South Asia, as well as by large number of Tibetan refugees all over the world. ... For other uses, see Lhasa (disambiguation). ... Nepal Bhasa (also known as Newari) is a language spoken by Newar community in the Kathmandu Valley, as well as in other towns inhabitated by newar community Nepal. ... For the retail store chain, see Kathmandu (company). ... The Austroasiatic languages are a large language family of Southeast Asia and India. ... The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken in Myanmar and Thailand. ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Munda Languages are spoken in north east India. ... The Tai-Kadai languages, also known simply as Kadai, are a language family found in Southeast Asia and southern China. ... The Hmong-Mien or Miao-Yao languages are a small language family of southern China and Southeast Asia. ... The Afro-Asiatic languages constitute a language family (Languages of Africa) with about 375 languages (SIL estimate) and more than 300 million speakers spread throughout North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, and Southwest Asia (including some 200 million speakers of Arabic). ... Hausa is the Chadic language with the largest number of speakers, spoken as a first language by about 24 million people, and as a second language by about 15 million more. ... Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... Map showing the distribution of Niger-Congo languages The Niger-Congo languages constitute one of the worlds major language families, and Africas largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. ... Ewe (native name , the language) is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana and Togo by approximately three million people. ... Maninka is a Niger-Congo; Mande language spoken by 3,300,000 (including all varieties) in Guinea and Mali where it is the official langauge and also in Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone where it has no official status. ... Yoruba (native name èdè Yorùbá, the Yoruba language) is a dialect continuum of West Africa with over 22 million speakers. ... Lingala is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and a large part of the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. ... For the cattle breed see Nguni cattle. ... Map showing the approximate distribution of Bantu vs. ... The Kru languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family and are spoken in the area ranging from the south-east of Liberia to the east of Côte dIvoire. ... This article is about the language. ... The Fula language is a language of West Africa, spoken by the Fula people from Senegal to Cameroon and Sudan. ... Wolof is a language spoken in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania, and it is the native language of the ethnic group of the Wolof people. ... Map showing the distribution of the Nilo-Saharan languages. ... The Khoisan languages (also Khoesaan languages) are the indigenous languages of southern and eastern Africa; in southern Africa their speakers are the Khoi and Bushmen (Saan). ... Athabaskan or Athabascan (also Athapascan or Athapaskan) is the name of a large group of distantly related Native American peoples, also known as the Athabasca Indians or Athapaskes, and of their language family. ... Reading Adahooniigii — The Navajo Language Monthly Navajo or Navaho (native name: Diné bizaad) is an Athabaskan language (of Na-Dené stock) spoken in the southwest United States by the Navajo people (Diné). It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages (the majority of Athabaskan languages are spoken... Oto-Manguean languages (also Otomanguean) are a large family comprised of several families of Native American languages. ... Kiowa-Tanoan languages Kiowa-Tanoan (also Tanoan-Kiowa) is a family of languages spoken in New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. ... Amazon River basin The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. ... A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable language that originates seemingly as a new language, sometimes with features that are not inherited from any apparent source, without however qualifying in any appreciable way as a mixed language. ... Saramaccan (autonym: Saamáka) is a creole spoken by about 24,000 people near the Saramaccan and upper Suriname Rivers in Suriname, and 2,000 in French Guiana. ... Papiamento or Papiamentu is the primary language spoken on the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Yenisei-Ostyak language family is spoken in central Siberia. ... The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia. ... This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... In phonetics, phonation is the use of the laryngeal system to generate an audible source of acoustic energy, i. ... In human language, a phoneme is the theoretical representation of a sound. ...


Some Indo-European languages are usually characterised as tonal, such as Lithuanian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, Limburgish, Swedish and Norwegian; more correctly, however, they are pitch accent languages, as only the tone on the stressed syllable can have any effect on the meaning. Ancient Greek and Vedic Sanskrit were also pitch-accent languages. (In practice, the pitch alone only rarely distinguished the meaning in these two languages. A famous example of such a case is from Aristophanes' Frogs (l. 304), where Aristophanes refers to an actual occurrence at the performance of Euripides' Orestes where an actor had pronounced galn' horō "I see calm waters" with so much empathy that it came out galên horō "I see a weasel".) For other uses, see Indo-European. ... Serbo-Croatian or Croato-Serbian (sometimes just Croatian or Serbian) (srpskohrvatski, cрпскохрватски, hrvatskosrpski, hrvatski ili srpski or srpski ili hrvatski), earlier also Serbo-Croat, is a South Slavic language. ... Limburgish, or Limburgian or Limburgic (Dutch: Limburgs, German: Limburgisch, French: Limbourgeois) is a group of Franconian varieties, spoken in the Limburg and Rhineland regions, near the common Dutch / Belgian / German border. ... Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, which are the earliest sacred texts of India,. The Vedas were first passed down orally and therefore have no known date. ... This article is about the 5-4th century BC dramatist. ... Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article: The Frogs Frogs (Βάτραχοι (Bátrachoi)) is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. ... A statue of Euripides. ... Orestes Ορεστης is a Greek name, literally he who stands on the mountain, or mountain-dweller. Orestes can refer to: In Greek mythology, the son of Agamemnon. ...


However, the Indo-European language Punjabi is clearly a tonal language, where the tones arose as a reinterpretation of different consonant series in terms of pitch, as happened in most of the Chinese languages. Punjabi redirects here. ...


Origin of tone

Tone is frequently an areal rather than a genetic feature: that is, a language may acquire tones through bilingualism if influential neighboring languages are tonal, or if speakers of a tonal language switch to the language in question. In other cases, tone may arise spontaneously, and surprisingly quickly: The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma has tone, but the dialect in North Carolina does not, although they were only separated in 1838. In linguistics, an areal feature is any typological feature shared by languages within the same geographical area. ... Original distribution of the Cherokee language Cherokee (; Tsalagi) is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people which uses a unique syllabary writing system. ... | Jöns Jakob Berzelius, discoverer of protein 1838 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...


An interesting question is how tones arise in a language, i.e. tonogenesis. In the Chinese languages they arose as a reinterpretation of initial and final consonants. Middle Chinese, for example, had three tones (rising, "departing", and level), which are said to have arisen from Old Chinese final consonants (/ʔ/, /s/, or neither of these). Most later dialects were affected by a tonal split, where each tone split into two depending on whether the initial consonant was voiced or unvoiced; vowels following an unvoiced consonant acquired a high tone while those following a voiced consonant acquired a low tone, and this distinction became phonemic when voiced consonants lost their voicing. This is an example of Cheshirisation. Middle Chinese (Traditional Chinese: 中古漢語; Pinyin: zhōnggÇ” HànyÇ”), or Ancient Chinese as used by linguist Bernhard Karlgren, refers to the Chinese language spoken during Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties (6th century - 10th century). ... The Seal script characters for harvest (later year) and person. ... Phonemic differentiation is the phenomenon of a phoneme in a language splitting into two phonemes over time, a process known as a phonemic split. ... In spoken language, a phoneme is a basic, theoretical unit of sound that can distinguish words (i. ... James A. Matisoff (born July 14, 1937) is a professor emeritus of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley and noted authority on Tibeto-Burman languages and other languages of mainland Southeast Asia. ...


These same changes affected many other languages in the same area, around the same time (AD 1000 - 1500). The tone split, for example, also occurred in Thai, Vietnamese, and Lhasa Tibetan. For other uses, see Lhasa (disambiguation). ... The Tibetan language is spoken primarily by the Tibetan people who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering South Asia, as well as by large number of Tibetan refugees all over the world. ...


In general, voiced initial consonants lead to low tones, while vowels after aspirated consonants acquire a high tone. When final consonants are lost, a glottal stop tends to leave a preceding vowel with a high or rising tone (although glottalized vowels tend to be low tone), whereas a final fricative tends to leave a preceding vowel with a low or falling tone. Vowel phonation also frequently develops into tone, as in the case of Burmese.


Three Algonquian languages developed tone independently of each other and of neighboring languages: Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kickapoo. In Cheyenne, tone arose via vowel contraction; the long vowels of Proto-Algonquian contracted into high-pitched vowels in Cheyenne, while the short vowels became low-pitched. In Kickapoo, a vowel with a following [h] became low tone, and this tone later extended to all vowels followed by a fricative. The Algonquian (also Algonkian) languages are a subfamily of Native American languages that includes most of the languages in the Algic language family (the two Algic languages that are not Algonquian are Wiyot and Yurok of northwestern California). ... The Cheyenne language (TsÄ—hesenÄ—stsestotse or, in easier spelling, Tsisinstsistots) is a Native American language spoken in present-day Montana and Oklahoma, USA. It is part of the Algonquian language family. ... The Arapaho language (also Arapahoe) language is a Plains Algonquian language spoken almost entirely by elders in Wyoming. ... The Kickapoos are one of the Algonquian speaking Native American tribes. ...


Tone arose in the Athabascan languages at least twice, in a patchwork of two systems. In some languages, such as Navajo, syllables with glottalized consonants (including glottal stops) in the syllable coda developed low tones, whereas in others, such as Slavey, they developed high tones, so that the two tonal systems are almost mirror images of each other. Syllables without glottalized codas developed the opposite tone — for example, high tone in Navajo and low tone in Slavey. Other Athabascan languages, namely those in western Alaska (such as Koyukon) and the Pacific coast (such as Hupa), did not develop tone. Thus, the Proto-Athabascan word for "water" *tu· is toneless to· in Hupa, high-toned in Navajo, and low-toned in Slavey, while Proto-Athabascan *-ɢʊtʼ "knee" is toneless -ɢotʼ in Hupa, low-toned -gòd in Navajo, and high-toned -góʼ in Slavey. Kingston (2005) provides a phonetic explanation for the opposite development of tone based on the two different ways of producing glottalized consonants with either (a) accompaning tense voice (with high F0) or (b) creaky voice (with low F0) on the preceding vowel. Languages with "stiff" glottalized consonants and tense voice developed high tone on the preceding vowel and those with "slack" glottalized consonants with creaky voice developed low tone. Athabaskan or Athabascan (also Athapascan or Athapaskan) is the name of a large group of distantly related Native American peoples, also known as the Athabasca Indians or Athapaskes, and of their language family. ... Reading Adahooniigii — The Navajo Language Monthly Navajo or Navaho (native name: Diné bizaad) is an Athabaskan language (of Na-Dené stock) spoken in the southwest United States by the Navajo people (Diné). It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages (the majority of Athabaskan languages are spoken... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... The Slavey language is a spoken language used among the Slavey Native American people of Canada. ... Koyukon is an Athabaskan language spoken along the Koyukuk and middle Yukon River in western interior Alaska. ... A smoky day at the Sugar Bowl Edward Curtis, photographer The Hupa are an Athabaskan tribe which inhabit northwestern California. ... The term stiff voice describes the pronunciation of consonants with a glottal opening narrower, and the vocal cords stiffer, than what occurs in normal (modal) voice. ... The fundamental tone, often referred to simply as the fundamental and abbreviated fo, is the lowest frequency in a harmonic series. ... Creaky voice (also called laryngealisation, pulse phonation or, in singing, vocal fry or glottal fry), is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact, and forming a...


Tone as a distinguishing feature

Most languages use intonation (that is, pitch) to convey grammatical structure or emphasis (see phonology), but this does not make them tonal languages in this sense. In these cases, tones can change how the audience is intended to interpret a word (e.g. sarcastically), but in tonal languages, the tone is an integral part of a word itself. Thus minimal pairs can exist in such a language, distinguished only by a change of tone. Phonology (Greek phonē = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a specific language (or languages). ... In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have a distinct meaning. ...


To illustrate how tone can affect meaning, let us look at the following example from Mandarin, which has five tones, which can be indicated by diacritics over vowels:

  1. A long, high level tone: ā
  2. Starts at normal pitch and rises to the pitch of tone 1: á
  3. A low tone, dipping down briefly before slowly rising to the starting level of tone 2: ǎ
  4. A sharply falling tone, starting at the height of tone 1 and falling to somewhere below tone 2's onset: à
  5. A neutral tone, sometimes indicated by a zero or a dot (·), which has no specific contour; the actual pitch expressed is directly influenced by the tones of the preceding and following syllables. Mandarin speakers refer to this tone as the "light tone" (輕聲).

These tones can lead to one syllable, e.g. "ma", having numerous meanings, of which five are exemplified below, depending on the tone associated with it, so that "mā" glosses as "mother", "má" as "hemp", "mǎ" as "horse", "mà" as "scold", and toneless "ma" at the end of a sentence acts as an interrogative particle. This differentiation in tone allows a speaker to create the (not entirely grammatical) sentence:

妈妈骂马的麻吗? (in traditional characters 媽媽罵馬的麻嗎?)
māma mà mǎ de má ma?
"Is Mother scolding the horse's hemp?"

A well-known tongue-twister in the Thai language is: Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. ... A tongue-twister is a phrase in any language that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly. ...

ไหมใหม่ไหม้ไหม
măi mài mâi măi
"Does new silk burn?"

(Tones can change over time, while retaining their original spelling. The Thai spelling of the final word in the tongue-twister - ไหม - indicates a rising tone, but is now commonly pronounced with a high tone - māi. A newer spelling - มั้ย - occasionally appears.)


Tones can interact in complex ways through a process known as tone sandhi. Tone sandhi (Sandhi is from Sanskrit meaning, putting together) refers to the pitch change in tones when different tones come together. ...


Register and contour tones

Tonal languages fall into two broad categories: Register tone systems and contour tone systems. Mandarin has a contour tone system, where the distinguishing feature of the tones are their shifts in pitch (their pitch shapes or contours, such as rising, falling, dipping, or peaking) rather than simply their pitch relative to each other as in a register tone system. Register tone systems are found in Bantu languages and throughout Africa. In some register tone systems, there is a default tone, usually low in a two-tone system or mid in a three-tone system, that is more common and less salient than other tones. There are also languages that combine register and contour tones, such as the Kru languages, though in such cases the register tones may be analysed as being 'level' (unvarying pitch) contour tones. The Kru languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family and are spoken in the area ranging from the south-east of Liberia to the east of Côte dIvoire. ...


Tones are realized as pitch only in a relative sense. 'High tone' and 'low tone' are only meaningful relative to the speaker's vocal range and in comparing one syllable to the next, rather than as a contrast of absolute pitch such as one finds in music. As a result, when one combines tone with sentence prosody, the absolute pitch of a high tone at the end of a clause may be lower than that of a low tone at the beginning, because average pitch tends to decrease with time in a process called downdrift. Downdrift is a linguistic phenomenon defined as the lowering of high tones that are separated by low tones. ...


The term 'register', when not in the phrase 'register tone', is used to indicate vowel phonation combined with tone in a single phonological system. Burmese and Khmer, for example, are register languages. Burmese is usually considered a tonal language and Khmer a vowel-phonation language, but in both cases differences in relative pitch or pitch contours are correlated with vowel phonation, so that neither exists independently. In phonetics, phonation is the use of the laryngeal system to generate an audible source of acoustic energy, i. ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... In linguistics, a register language is a language which combines tone and vowel phonation into a single phonological system. ... In phonetics, phonation is the use of the laryngeal system to generate an audible source of acoustic energy, i. ...


Notational systems

Due to the fact that tonal languages are found all over the world, several systems to mark tone have developed independently. In Asian and Meso-American contexts, numerical systems are most common, whereas accent marks are used mainly in African contexts.


Africa

In African linguistics (as well as in many African orthographies), usually a set of accent marks is used to mark tone. The most common phonetic set (which is also included in the International Phonetic Alphabet) is found below: Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...

High tone acute á
Mid tone macron ā
Low tone grave à

Several variations are found. In many three tone languages, it is common to mark High and Low tone as indicated above, but to omit marking of the Mid tone, e.g. (High), ma (Mid), (Low). Similarly, in some two tone languages, only one tone is marked explicitly.


With more complex tonal systems, such as in the Kru and Omotic languages, it is usual to indicate tone with numbers, with 1 for HIGH and 4 or 5 for LOW. Contour tones are then indicated 14, 21, etc. The Kru languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family and are spoken in the area ranging from the south-east of Liberia to the east of Côte dIvoire. ... The Omotic languages are Afro-Asiatic languages spoken in northeast Africa. ...


Asia

In the Chinese tradition, numerals are assigned to various tones. For instance, Standard Mandarin has five tones, and the numerals 1, 2, 3, and 4 are assigned to four tones, and the neutral tone is left numberless. Chinese dialects are traditionally described in terms of eight tones (six tones, from the perspective of modern linguistics), though many dialects do not have all of them. Outside standard Mandarin, the numerals 1 to 8 are assigned to these tones based on their historical origin. In neither of these systems does the numeral have anything to do with the pitch values of the tones. Tone 5, for example, has drastically different realizations in different dialects. Map of eastern China and Taiwan, showing the historic distribution of Mandarin Chinese in light brown. ...


More iconic systems are to use tone numbers, or an equivalent set of graphic pictograms known as 'Chao tone letters'. These divide the pitch into five levels, with the lowest being assigned the value 1, and the highest the value 5. (This is the opposite of equivalent systems in Africa and the Americas.) The variation in pitch of a tone contour is notated as a string of two or three numbers. For instance, the four Mandarin tones are transcribed as follows (note that the tone letters will not display properly unless you have a compatible font installed): Yuen Ren Chao (Traditional Chinese: 趙元任; Pinyin: Zhào Yuánrèn; WG: Chao Yüan-jen; Gwoyeu Romatzyh: Jaw Yuanrenn) (November 3, 1892 - February 25, 1982) was a Chinese linguist and amateur composer who shaped Gwoyeu Romatzyh and the scientific studies, especially the phonology, of the Chinese language. ... The tone contours of Standard Mandarin Tone contours are numbers that represent the way pitch varies over a syllable. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...

High tone 55 ˥˥ (Tone 1)
Mid rising tone 35 ˧˥ (Tone 2)
Low dipping tone 214 ˨˩˦ (Tone 3)
High falling tone 51 ˥˩ (Tone 4)

A mid-level tone would be indicated by /33/, a low level tone /11/, etc.


The Thai language has five tones: high, mid, low, rising and falling. It uses an alphabetic writing system which specifies the tone unambiguously. Tone is indicated by an interaction of the initial consonant of a syllable, the vowel, the final consonant (if present), and sometimes a tone mark. A particular tone mark may denote different tones depending on the initial consonant. Thai (, transcription: phasa thai, transliteration: ; IPA: ), is the national and official language of Thailand and the mother tongue of the Thai people, Thailands dominant ethnic group. ...


Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet, and the 6 tones are marked by diacritics above or below a certain vowel of each syllable. In many words that end in diphthongs, however, exactly which vowel is marked is still debatable. Notation for Vietnamese tones are as follows: Example of a letter with a diacritic A diacritic or diacritical mark, also called an accent, is a small sign added to a letter to alter pronunciation or to distinguish between similar words. ... In phonetics, a diphthong (also gliding vowel) (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds, or with two tones) is a monosyllabic vowel combination involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ...

Name/Description Diacritic Example
ngang (high level) not marked a
huyền (low falling) grave accent à
sắc (high rising) acute accent á
hỏi (dipping) hook
ngã (creaky rising) tilde ã
nặng (constricted) dot below

The Latin-based Hmong and Iu Mien alphabets use full letters for tones. In Hmong, one of the eight tones (the ˧ tone) is left unwritten, while the other seven are indicated by the letters b, m, d, j, v, s, g at the end of the syllable. Since Hmong has no phonemic syllable-final consonants, there is no ambiguity. This system enables Hmong speakers to type their language with an ordinary Latin-letter typewriter without having to resort to diacritics. In the Iu Mien, the letters v, c, h, x, z indicate tones but, unlike Hmong, it also has final consonants written before the tone. The grave accent ( ` ) is a diacritic mark used in written Greek until 1982 (polytonic orthography), French, Catalan, Welsh, Italian, Vietnamese, Scottish Gaelic, Norwegian, Portuguese and other languages. ... The acute accent (   ) is a diacritic mark used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin and Greek scripts. ... For other meanings of hook, see hook (disambiguation). ... For the baseball player known as the Big Tilde, see Magglio Ordóñez. ... When used as a diacritic mark, the term dot is usually reserved for the Interpunct ( · ), or to the glyphs combining dot above ( ) and combining dot below ( ) which may be combined with some letters of the extended Latin alphabets in use in Central European languages and Vietnamese. ... |familycolor=Hmong-Mien |states=Sichuan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and USA. |speakers=over 4 million[1] |fam1=Hmong-Mien |iso2=hmn| |lc1=hmn|ld1=Hmong (generic)|ll1=none |lc2=mww|ld2=Hmong Daw (Laos, China)|ll2=none |lc3=hmv|ld3=Hmong Do (Vietnam)|ll3=none |lc4=hmf|ld4=Hmong Don (Vietnam... The Iu Mien language is one of the main languages spoken by the Yao people in China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and more recently the USA. There are about 900,000 speakers in total. ... The Iu Mien language is one of the main languages spoken by the Yao people in China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and more recently the USA. There are about 900,000 speakers in total. ...


The Japanese language does not have tone, but does have pitch accent, so that 雨 áme (rain), with a drop in pitch (a downstep) after the first syllable, is distinguished from あめ ame (candy), which has no downstep. Not to be confused with the Javanese language. ... Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... Downstep is a phonemic or phonetic downward shift of tone between the syllables or words of a tonal language. ...


The Americas

Several North American languages have tone, one of which is Cherokee, said to be the most musical of the Iroquoian languages. Cherokee has six tones (1 low, 2 medium, 3 high, 4 very high, 23 rising and 32 falling).


In Mesoamericanist linguistics, /1/ stands for High tone and /5/ stands for Low tone. It is also common to see acute accents for high tone and grave accents for low tone and combinations of these for contour tones. Several popular orthographies use ‹j› or ‹h› after a vowel to indicate low tone.


Southern Athabascan languages that include the Navajo and Apache languages are tonal, and are analyzed as having 2 tones, high and low. One variety of Hopi has developed tone, as has the Cheyenne language. Pre-contact distribution of Southern Athabaskan languages Southern Athabaskan (also Apachean) is a subfamily of Athabaskan languages spoken in the North American Southwest. ... Reading Adahooniigii — The Navajo Language Monthly Navajo or Navaho (native name: Diné bizaad) is an Athabaskan language (of Na-Dené stock) spoken in the southwest United States by the Navajo people (Diné). It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages (the majority of Athabaskan languages are spoken... Southern Athabaskan (also Apachean) is a subfamily of Athabaskan languages spoken primarily in the North American Southwest (including Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Sonora) with two outliers in Oklahoma and Texas. ... Hopi is an Uto-Aztecan language spoken by the Hopi people of northeastern Arizona, USA, although today some Hopi are monolingual English speakers. ... The Cheyenne language (Tsėhesenėstsestotse or, in easier spelling, Tsisinstsistots) is a Native American language spoken in present-day Montana and Oklahoma, USA. It is part of the Algonquian language family. ...


The Mesoamerican language stock called Oto-Manguean is notoriously tonal and is the largest language family in Mesoamerica, containing languages including Zapotec, Mixtec, Chinantec, and Otomí, some of which have as many as 12 different tones (Zoogocho Zapotec) and others only two (Matlatzinca and Chichimeca Jonaz). Other languages in Mesoamerica that have tones are Huichol, Yukatek Maya, Tzotzil Maya of San Bartolo and Uspantec Maya (Quiché of Uspantán), and one variety of Huave. Oto-Manguean languages are a large family of Native American languages spoken in Mexico. ... This article is about the culture area. ... Zapotec refers to a native people of Mexico, their language family consisting of more than fifteen languages, and their historic culture and traditions. ... Map showing Mexican indigenous languages with more than 100. ... Chinantec is a tribe that lives in Oaxaca and Puebla, Mexico. ... The Otomi language is an indigenous language of Mexico, spoken across a number of central Mexican states by the ethnic group widely known as the Otomi but who refer to themselves as Hñähñu (or similar, depending on the language variant). ... The Matlatzinca language which is also called Tlahuica or Ocuiltec, is an indigenous language of Mexico spoken by the Matlatzinca people in the southern part of the State of Mexico. ... The Chichimeca Jonaz language is an indigenous language of Mexico spoken by around 200 Chichimeca Jonaz people in the state of Guanajuato. ... Huichol yarn painting The Huichol are an indigenous ethnic group of Western Central Mexico that live in the Sierra Madre Occidental. ... Yukatek Maya (in the revised orthography of the Academia de Lenguas Mayas, now preferred by scholars; also frequently Yucatec) is a Mayan language spoken in the Yucatán Peninsula, northern Belize and parts of Guatemala. ... Tzotzil is a Maya language spoken by the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people in Chiapas, Mexico. ... The Kiche language (Quiché in Spanish) is a part of the Mayan language family. ... Huave (also spelled Wabe) is a language isolate spoken by the indigenous Huave people on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. ...


A number of languages of South America are tonal. For example, the Pirahã language has three tones. The Ticuna language isolate is exceptional for having five level tones (the only other languages to have such a system are the Trique language and the Usila dialect of Chinantec (both Oto-Manguean languages of Mexico). Pirahã (also Pirahá, Pirahán) is a language spoken by the Pirahã — an indigenous people of Amazonas, Brazil, who live along the Maici river, a tributary of the Amazon. ... Ticuna is a language spoken by approximately 40,000 people in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. ... The Trique or Triqui language is an Oto-Manguean language of Mexican spoken by the Trique indigenous group of the state of Oaxaca. ... Chinantec is a tribe that lives in Oaxaca and Puebla, Mexico. ...


Europe

Both Swedish and Norwegian have a phenomenon that is often called "tone", but it is better understood as a pitch accent, as it appears only in words of two or more syllables. (Tones, according to the linguistic definition, are found on every syllable in tone languages.) This pitch accent is mostly used prosodically, but also to differentiate two-syllable words depending on their morphological structure. These accents are usually referred to as accent 1 and accent 2 (or acute accent and grave accent), respectively. For further explanation and examples, see the Swedish and Norwegian language articles. Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... In linguistics, prosody refers to intonation, rhythm, and vocal stress in speech. ... For other uses, see Morphology. ... The acute accent (   ) is a diacritic mark used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin and Greek scripts. ... The grave accent ( ` ) is a diacritic mark used in written Greek until 1982 (polytonic orthography), French, Catalan, Welsh, Italian, Vietnamese, Scottish Gaelic, Norwegian, Portuguese and other languages. ...


Number of tones

In theory, there can be endless kinds of tonal variations. Although classified here according to their pitch values from 1 to 5, tones can actually change in pitch. Some tones change twice within a syllable. Therefore, theoretically, there can be a variation of 5*5*5 = 125 different tones. However, if tones are not distinguishable, they are obsolete. Practically, the tones will shift until they can be distinguished.


The most documented living language with the most tones currently is Ai-Cham (錦話), a member of Kam-Sui languages in the Tai-Kadai language family. It has a total number of 11 tones[citation needed]; Pinghua has 10 tones[citation needed]. Ai-Cham is a language spoken in Libo County, Qiannan Buyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province, Peoples Republic of China. ... The Tai-Kadai languages are a language family found in Southeast Asia and southern China. ... Pinghua (平話/平话), also Guangxi Nanning, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ...


However, preliminary linguistic work being done in the Chatino family of languages in southern Mexico suggests that some Chatino dialects may phonologically distinguish as many as 14 tones. For the indigenous people, see Chatino. ...


See also

Pitch accent is a kind of accent system employed in many languages around the world. ... Tone terracing is a type of phonetic downdrift, where certain tones shift downward in pitch after other tones. ... Downdrift is a linguistic phenomenon defined as the lowering of high tones that are separated by low tones. ... Downstep is a phonemic or phonetic downward shift of tone between the syllables or words of a tonal language. ... A floating tone is a morpheme that contains no consonants, no vowels, but only tone. ... The tone contours of Standard Mandarin Tone contours are numbers that represent the way pitch varies over a syllable. ... Meeussen’s rule is the name for a special case of tone reduction in Bantu languages. ... Tones in Chinese derive from the traditional Middle Chinese tone classes, known as Ping Sheng (平聲), Shang Sheng (上聲), Qu Sheng (去聲), and Ru Sheng (入聲), which in English in the linguistic literature, are sometimes called the level, rising, departing and entering tones. ... A Tonal language is a language that uses tone to distinguish words. ... This article needs cleanup. ... This article or section uses Ruby annotation. ...

Bibliography

  • Bao, Zhiming. (1999). The structure of tone. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511880-4.
  • Chen, Matthew Y. 2000. Tone Sandhi: patterns across Chinese dialects. Cambridge, England: CUP ISBN 0-521-65272-3
  • Fromkin, Victoria A. (Ed.). (1978). Tone: A linguistic survey. New York: Academic Press.
  • Halle, Morris; & Stevens, Kenneth. (1971). A note on laryngeal features. Quarterly progress report 101. MIT.
  • Hyman, Larry. 2007. There is no pitch-accent prototype. Paper presented at the 2007 LSA Meeting. Anaheim, CA.
  • Hombert, Jean-Marie; Ohala, John J.; & Ewan, William G. (1979). Phonetic explanations for the development of tones. Language, 55, 37-58.
  • Kingston, John. (2005). The phonetics of Athabaskan tonogenesis. In S. Hargus & K. Rice (Eds.), Athabaskan prosody (pp. 137-184). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
  • Maddieson, Ian. (1978). Universals of tone. In J. H. Greenberg (Ed.), Universals of human language: Phonology (Vol. 2). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Odden, David. (1995). Tone: African languages. In J. Goldsmith (Ed.), Handbook of phonological theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
  • Pike, Kenneth L. (1948). Tone languages: A technique for determining the number and type of pitch contrasts in a language, with studies in tonemic substitution and fusion. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. (Reprinted 1972, ISBN 0-472-08734-7).
  • Yip, Moira. (2002). Tone. Cambridge textbooks in linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77314-8 (hbk), ISBN 0-521-77445-4 (pbk).

  Results from FactBites:
 
Tone (linguistics) in TutorGig Encyclopedia (2688 words)
It could be argued either that the tone is incidental to the phonation, in which case Burmese would not be phonemically tonal, or that the phonation is incidental to the tone, in which case it would be considered tonal.
Tone is frequently an areal rather than a genetic feature: that is, a language may acquire tones through bilingualism if influential neighboring languages are tonal, or if speakers of a tonal language switch to the language in question.
As a result, when one combines tone with sentence prosody, the absolute pitch of a high tone at the end of a clause may be lower than that of a low tone at the beginning, because average pitch tends to decrease with time in a process called downdrift.
Tone (linguistics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2897 words)
Tone is frequently an areal rather than a genetic feature: that is, a language may acquire tones through bilingualism if influential neighboring languages are tonal, or if speakers of a tonal language switch to the language in question.
As a result, when one combines tone with sentence prosody, the absolute pitch of a high tone at the end of a clause may be lower than that of a low tone at the beginning, because average pitch tends to decrease with time in a process called downdrift.
The tone of a syllable is indicated by an interaction between the "class" of the initial consonant, the length of the vowel, the final consonant (occlusive or not), and sometimes a tone mark.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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