MechanicsMost languages use as intonation to convey and , but this does not make them tonal languages. In tonal languages, each has an inherent pitch contour, and thus s (or larger minimal sets) exist between syllables with the same segmental features (consonants and vowels) but different tones. Vietnamese by far has the most heavily studied tone system as well as amongst its various dialects. Below is a table of the six Vietnamese tones and their corresponding tone accent or diacritics: : : , which has , transcribed by letters with diacritics over vowels: # A high level tone: /á/ ( ) # A tone starting with mid pitch and rising to a high pitch: /ǎ/ (pinyin ) # A low tone with a slight fall (if there is no following syllable, it may start with a dip then rise to a high pitch): /à/ (pinyin ) # A short, sharply falling tone, starting high and falling to the bottom of the speaker's vocal range: /â/ (pinyin ) # A , with no specific contour, used on weak syllables; its pitch depends chiefly on the tone of the preceding syllable. These tones combine with a syllable such as ''ma'' to produce different words. A minimal set based on ''ma'' are, in transcription: # ''mā'' (/) 'mother' # ''má'' (/) 'hemp' # ''mǎ'' (/) 'horse' # ''mà'' (/) 'scold' # ''ma'' (/) (an interrogative particle) These may be combined into the rather contrived sentence: : Simplified: : : :Pinyin: ''Māma mà mǎde má ma?'' :IPA :Translation: 'Is mom scolding the horse's hemp?' A well-known in Standard Thai is: : :IPA: :Translation: 'Does new silk burn?' A Vietnamese tongue twisters: : :IPA: :Translation: 'All along you've set up the seven traps incorrectly!' A Cantonese tongue twister: : : : ''jat1 jan4 jan1 jat1 jat6 jan5 jat1 jan6 jat1 jan3 ji4 jan2'' :IPA: :Translation: ''A person why stay endured due to a day have introduced a knife and a print.'' Tone is most frequently manifested on vowels, but in most tonal languages where s occur they will bear tone as well. This is especially common with syllabic nasals, for example in many and , but also occurs in . It is also possible for lexically contrastive pitch (or tone) to span entire words or morphemes instead of manifesting on the syllable nucleus (vowels), which is the case in . Tones can interact in complex ways through a process known as .
PhonationIn a number of East Asian languages, tonal differences are closely intertwined with differences. In , for example, the and tones are both high-rising but the former is distinguished by having in the middle. Similarly, the and tones are both low-falling, but the tone is shorter and pronounced with at the end, while the tone is longer and often has . In some languages, such as Burmese, pitch and phonation are so closely intertwined that the two are combined in a single phonological system, where neither can be considered without the other. The distinctions of such systems are termed '' registers''. The ''tone register'' here shall not be confused with ''register tone'' described in the next section.
Phonation typeGordon and Ladefoged established a continuum of phonation, where several types can be identified.
Relationship with toneKuang identified two types of phonation: pitch-dependent and pitch-independent.Kuang, J.-J. (2013). ''Phonation in Tonal Contrasts (Doctoral dissertation)''. University of California, Los Angeles. Contrast of tones has long been thought of as differences in pitch height. However, several studies pointed out that tone is actually multidimensional. Contour, duration, and phonation may all contribute to the differentiation of tones. Recent investigations using perceptual experiments seem to suggest phonation counts as a perceptual cue.
Tone and pitch accentMany languages use tone in a more limited way. In , fewer than half of the words have a drop in pitch; words contrast according to which syllable this drop follows. Such minimal systems are sometimes called since they are reminiscent of languages, which typically allow one principal stressed syllable per word. However, there is debate over the definition of pitch accent and whether a coherent definition is even possible.
Tone and intonationBoth lexical or grammatical tone and prosodic intonation are cued by changes in pitch, as well as sometimes by changes in phonation. Lexical tone coexists with intonation, with the lexical changes of pitch like waves superimposed on larger swells. For example, Luksaneeyanawin (1993) describes three intonational patterns in Thai: falling (with semantics of "finality, closedness, and definiteness"), rising ("non-finality, openness and non-definiteness") and "convoluted" (contrariness, conflict and emphasis). The phonetic realization of these intonational patterns superimposed on the five lexical tones of Thai (in citation form) are as follows: With convoluted intonation, it appears that high and falling tone conflate, while the low tone with convoluted intonation has the same contour as rising tone with falling intonation.
Tonal polarityLanguages with simple tone systems or may have one or two syllables specified for tone, with the rest of the word taking a default tone. Such languages differ in which tone is marked and which is the default. In , for example, syllables have a low tone by default, whereas marked syllables have high tone. In the related language , however, the default is high tone, and marked syllables have low tone. There are parallels with stress: English stressed syllables have a higher pitch than unstressed syllables, whereas in , stressed syllables have a lower pitch.
In many , tones are distinguished by their pitch level relative to each other. In multisyllable words, a single tone may be carried by the entire word rather than a different tone on each syllable. Often, grammatical information, such as past versus present, "I" versus "you", or positive versus negative, is conveyed solely by tone. In the most widely spoken tonal language, , tones are distinguished by their distinctive shape, known as contour, with each tone having a different internal pattern of rising and falling pitch. Many words, especially monosyllabic ones, are differentiated solely by tone. In a multisyllabic word, each syllable often carries its own tone. Unlike in Bantu systems, tone plays little role in the grammar of modern standard Chinese, though the tones descend from features in that had morphological significance (such as changing a verb to a noun or vice versa). Most tonal languages have a combination of register and contour tones. Tone is typical of languages including Kra–Dai, , , , , Niger-Congo and languages. Most tonal languages combine both register and contour tones, such as , which produces three varieties of contour tone at three different pitch levels, and the Omotic (Afroasiatic) language Bench, which employs five level tones and one or two rising tones across levels. Most use contour tones, where the distinguishing feature of the tones are their shifts in pitch (that is, the pitch is a ), such as rising, falling, dipping, or level. Most Bantu languages (except northwestern Bantu) on the other hand, have simpler tone systems usually with high, low and one or two contour tone (usually in long vowels). In such 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 relative-pitch and contour tones, such as many and other Niger-Congo languages of West Africa. Falling tones tend to fall further than rising tones rise; high–low tones are common, whereas low–high tones are quite rare. A language with contour tones will also generally have as many or more falling tones than rising tones. However, exceptions are not unheard of; Mpi, for example, has three level and three rising tones, but no falling tones.
Word tones and syllable tonesAnother difference between tonal languages is whether the tones apply independently to each syllable or to the word as a whole. In , , and , each syllable may have a tone, whereas in , , and many , the contour of each tone operates at the word level. That is, a trisyllabic word in a three-tone syllable-tone language has many more tonal possibilities (3 × 3 × 3 = 27) than a monosyllabic word (3), but there is no such difference in a word-tone language. For example, Shanghainese has two contrastive (phonemic) tones no matter how many syllables are in a word. Many languages described as having are word-tone languages. Tone sandhi is an intermediate situation, as tones are carried by individual syllables, but affect each other so that they are not independent of each other. For example, a number of Mandarin Chinese suffixes and grammatical particles have what is called (when describing Mandarin Chinese) a "neutral" tone, which has no independent existence. If a syllable with a neutral tone is added to a syllable with a full tone, the pitch contour of the resulting word is entirely determined by that other syllable: After high level and high rising tones, the neutral syllable has an independent pitch that looks like a mid-register tonethe default tone in most register-tone languages. However, after a falling tone it takes on a low pitch; the contour tone remains on the first syllable, but the pitch of the second syllable matches where the contour leaves off. And after a low-dipping tone, the contour spreads to the second syllable: the contour remains the same () whether the word has one syllable or two. In other words, the tone is now the property of the word, not the syllable. Shanghainese has taken this pattern to its extreme, as the pitches of all syllables are determined by the tone before them, so that only the tone of the initial syllable of a word is distinctive.
Lexical tones and grammatical tonesLexical tones are used to distinguish lexical meanings. Grammatical tones, on the other hand, change the . To some authors, the term includes both inflectional and derivational morphology. Tian described a grammatical tone, the ''induced creaky tone'', in Burmese.
Number of tonesLanguages may distinguish up to five levels of pitch, though the Chori language of Nigeria is described as distinguishing six surface tone registers. Since tone contours may involve up to two shifts in pitch, there are theoretically 5 × 5 × 5 = 125 distinct tones for a language with five registers. However, the most that are actually used in a language is a tenth of that number. Several of southern China have nine contrastive tones, including contour tones. For example, the has 9 tones: 3 more-or-less fixed tones (high, mid and low); 4 unidirectional tones (high and low rising, high and low falling); and 2 bidirectional tones (dipping and peaking). This assumes that s are not counted as having additional tones, as they traditionally are in China. For example, in the traditional reckoning, the has 15 tones, but 6 occur only in syllables closed with the voiceless s , or and the other 9 occur only in syllables not ending in one of these sounds. Preliminary work on the Wobe language (part of the Wee continuum) of Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, the of the Amazon and the s of southern Mexico suggests that some dialects may distinguish as many as fourteen tones or more. The Guere language, and of Liberia and Ivory Coast have around 10 tones, give or take. The languages of Mexico have a huge number of tones as well. The most complex tonal systems are actually found in Africa and the Americas, not east Asia.
Tone terracingTones 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 , the absolute pitch of a high tone at the end of a may be lower than that of a low tone at the beginning of the unit, because of the universal tendency (in both tonal and non-tonal languages) for pitch to decrease with time in a process called . Tones may affect each other just as consonants and vowels do. In many register-tone languages, low tones may cause a in following high or mid tones; the effect is such that even while the low tones remain at the lower end of the speaker's vocal range (which is itself descending due to downdrift), the high tones drop incrementally like steps in a stairway or terraced rice fields, until finally the tones merge and the system has to be reset. This effect is called . Sometimes a tone may remain as the sole realization of a grammatical particle after the original consonant and vowel disappear, so it can only be heard by its effect on other tones. It may cause downstep, or it may combine with other tones to form contours. These are called s.
Tone sandhiIn many contour-tone languages, one tone may affect the shape of an adjacent tone. The affected tone may become something new, a tone that only occurs in such situations, or it may be changed into a different existing tone. This is called tone sandhi. In Mandarin Chinese, for example, a dipping tone between two other tones is reduced to a simple low tone, which otherwise does not occur in Mandarin Chinese, whereas if two dipping tones occur in a row, the first becomes a rising tone, indistinguishable from other rising tones in the language. For example, the words 很 ('very') and 好 ('good') produce the phrase 很好 ('very good'). The two transcriptions may be conflated with reversed tone letters as .
Right- and left-dominant sandhiTone sandhi in can be classified with a left-dominant or right-dominant system. In a language of the right-dominant system, the right-most syllable of a word retains its citation tone (i.e., the tone in its isolation form). All the other syllables of the word must take their sandhi form. Taiwanese Southern Min is known for its complex sandhi system. Example: 鹹kiam5 'salty'; 酸sng1 'sour'; 甜tinn1 'sweet'; 鹹酸甜kiam7 sng7 tinn1 'candied fruit'. In this example, only the last syllable remains unchanged. Subscripted numbers represent the changed tone.
Tone changeTone change must be distinguished from tone sandhi. is a compulsory change that occurs when certain tones are juxtaposed. Tone change, however, is a morphologically conditioned alternation and is used as an inflectional or a derivational strategy. Lien indicated that causative verbs in modern are expressed with tonal alternation, and that tonal alternation may come from earlier affixes. Examples: 長 tng5 'long' vs. tng2 'grow'; 斷 tng7 'break' vs. tng2 'cause to break'. Also, 毒 in Taiwanese Southern Min has two pronunciations: to̍k (entering tone) means 'poison' or 'poisonous', while thāu (departing tone) means 'to kill with poison'. The same usage can be found in Min, Yue, and Hakka.
Uses of toneIn East Asia, tone is typically lexical. That is, tone is used to distinguish words which would otherwise be homonyms. This is characteristic of heavily tonal languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and . However, in many African languages, especially in the Niger–Congo family, tone can be both lexical and grammatical. In the , a combination of these patterns is found: nouns tend to have complex tone systems but are not much affected by grammatical inflections, whereas verbs tend to have simple tone systems, which are inflected to indicate tense and mood, , and , so that tone may be the only distinguishing feature between "you went" and "I won't go". In colloquial , especially when spoken quickly, vowels may assimilate to each other, and consonants so much that much of the lexical and grammatical information is carried by tone. In languages of West Africa such as Yoruba, people may even communicate with so-called " s", which are modulated to imitate the tones of the language, or by the tones of speech. Note that tonal languages are not distributed evenly across the same range as non-tonal languages. Instead, the majority of tone languages belong to the Niger-Congo, Sino-Tibetan and Vietic groups, which are then composed by a large majority of tone languages and dominate a single region. Only in limited locations (South Africa, New Guinea, Mexico, Brazil and a few others) are tone languages occurring as individual members or small clusters within a non-tone dominated area. In some locations, like Central America, it may represent no more than an incidental effect of which languages were included when one examines the distribution; for groups like Khoi-San in Southern Africa and Papuan languages, whole families of languages possess tonality but simply have relatively few members, and for some North American tone languages, multiple independent origins are suspected. If generally considering only complex-tone vs. no-tone, it might be concluded that tone is almost always an ancient feature within a language family that is highly conserved among members. However, when considered in addition to "simple" tone systems that include only two tones, tone, as a whole, appears to be more labile, appearing several times within Indo-European languages, several times in American languages, and several times in Papuan families. That may indicate that rather than a trait unique to some language families, tone is a latent feature of most language families that may more easily arise and disappear as languages change over time. A 2015 study by argued that tonal languages are more common in hot and humid climates, which make them easier to pronounce, even when considering familial relationships. If the conclusions of Everett's work are sound, this is perhaps the first known case of influence of the environment on the structure of the languages spoken in it. The proposed relationship between climate and tone is not uncontroversial, and logical and statistical issues have been raised by various scholars.
Tone and inflectionTone has long been viewed as merely a phonological system. It was not until recent years that tone was found to play a role in . Palancar and Léonard (2016) provided an example with Tlatepuzco (an Oto-Manguean language spoken in Southern ), where tones are able to distinguish mood, , and : Tones are used to differentiate cases as well, as in (a spoken in and ): Certain are known to express meaning by means of tone change although further investigations are required. Examples from two spoken in are shown below.Chen, Matthew Y. (2000). ''Tone Sandhi: Patterns across Chinese dialects''. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. In Taishan, tone change indicates the grammatical number of personal pronouns. In Zhongshan, verbs are marked with tone change. * Taishan * Zhongshan The following table compares the personal pronouns of Sixian dialect (a dialect of ) with Zaiwa and Jingpho (both spoken in and ). From this table, we find the distinction between nominative, genitive, and accusative is marked by tone change and sound alternation.
Phonetic notationThere are several approaches to notating tones in the description of a language. A fundamental difference is between ''phonemic'' and ''phonetic'' transcription. A phonemic notation will typically lack any consideration of the actual phonetic values of the tones. Such notations are especially common when comparing dialects with wildly different phonetic realizations of what are historically the same set of tones. In Chinese, for example, the " " may be assigned numbers, such as ① to ④ or – after the historical tone split that affected all Chinese languages to at least some extent – ① to ⑧ (with odd numbers for the ''yin'' tones and even numbers for the ''yang''). In traditional Chinese notation, the equivalent diacritics are attached to the , marking the same distinctions, plus underlined for the ''yang'' tones where a split has occurred. If further splits occurred in some language or dialect, the results may be numbered '4a' and '4b' or something similar. Among the Kradai languages, tones are typically assigned the letters A through D or, after a historical tone split similar to what occurred in Chinese, A1 to D1 and A2 to D2. (See .) With such a system, it can be seen which words in two languages have the same historical tone (say tone ③) even though they no longer sound anything alike. Also phonemic are upstep and , which are indicated by the IPA diacritics and , respectively, or by the typographic substitutes . Upstep and downstep affect the tones within a language as it is being spoken, typically due to grammatical inflection or when certain tones are brought together. (For example, a high tone may be stepped down when it occurs after a low tone, compared to the pitch it would have after a mid tone or another high tone.) Phonetic notation records the actual relative pitch of the tones. Since tones tend to vary over time periods as short as centuries, this means that the historical connections among the tones of two language varieties will generally be lost by such notation, even if they are dialects of the same language. * The easiest notation from a typographical perspective – but one that is internationally ambiguous – is a numbering system, with the pitch levels assigned digits and each tone transcribed as a digit (or as a sequence of digits if a contour tone). Such systems tend to be idiosyncratic (high tone may be assigned the digit 1, 3, or 5, for example) and have therefore not been adopted for the International Phonetic Alphabet. For instance, high tone is conventionally written with a 1 and low tone with a 4 or 5 when transcribing the of Liberia, but with 1 for low and 5 for high for the Omotic languages of Ethiopia. The tone in a Kru language is thus the same pitch contour as one written in an Omotic language. Pitch value 1 may be distinguished from tone number 1 by doubling it or making it superscript or both. * For simple tone systems, a series of diacritics such as for high tone and for low tone may be practical. This has been adopted by the IPA, but is not easy to adapt to complex contour tone systems (see under Chinese below for one workaround). The five IPA diacritics for level tones are , with doubled high and low diacritics for ''extra high'' and ''extra low'' (or 'top' and 'bottom'). The diacritics combine to form contour tones, of which have Unicode font support (support for additional combinations is sparse). Sometimes, a non-IPA vertical diacritic is seen for a second, higher mid tone, , so a language with four or six level tones may be transcribed or . For the Chinantecan languages of Mexico, the diacritics have been used, but they are a local convention not accepted by the IPA. * A retired IPA system, sometimes still encountered, traces the ''shape'' of the tone (the pitch trace) before the syllable, where a stress mark would go (e.g., ). For a more concrete example, take the Hanyu Pinyin syllable [sa] used in Standard Chinese, after applying the diacritics it becomes easier to identify more specific rising and falling tones: (high peaking tone), (low level tone), etc. It was used in combination with stress marks to indicate intonation as well, as in English (now transcribed ). * The most flexible system, based on the previous spacing diacritics but with the addition of a stem (like the staff of musical notation), is that of the IPA-adopted Chao tone letters, which are iconic schematics of the pitch trace of the tone in question. Because musical staff notation is international, there is no international ambiguity with the Chao/IPA tone letters: a line at the top of the staff is high tone, a line at the bottom is low tone, and the shape of the line is a schematic of the contour of the tone (as visible in a pitch trace). They are most commonly used for complex contour systems, such as those of the languages of Liberia and southern China. :The Chao tone letters have two variants. The left-stem letters, , are used for . These are especially important for the Min Chinese languages. For example, a word may be pronounced in isolation, but in a compound the tone will shift to . This can be notated morphophonemically as , where the back-to-front tone letters simultaneously show the underlying tone and the value in this word. Using the local (and internationally ambiguous) non-IPA numbering system, the compound may be written . Left-stem letters may also be combined to form contour tones. :The second Chao letter variant are the dotted tone letters , which are used to indicate the pitch of neutral tones. These are phonemically null, and may be indicated with the digit '0' in a numbering system, but take specific pitches depending on the preceding phonemic tone. When combined with tone sandhi, the left-stem dotted tone letters are seen. An IPA/Chao tone letter will rarely be composed of more than three elements (which are sufficient for peaking and dipping tones). Occasionally, however, peaking–dipping and dipping–peaking tones, which require four elements – or even double-peaking and double-dipping tones, which require five – are encountered. This is usually only the case when is superposed on lexical or grammatical tone, but a good computer font will allow an indefinite number of tone letters to be concatenated. The IPA diacritics placed over vowels and other letters have not been extended to this level of complexity.
AfricaIn African linguistics (as well as in many African orthographies), a set of diacritics is usual to mark tone. The most common are a subset of the International Phonetic Alphabet: Minor variations are common. In many three-tone languages, it is usual to mark high and low tone as indicated above but to omit marking of the mid tone: ''má'' (high), ''ma'' (mid), ''mà'' (low). Similarly, in two-tone languages, only one tone may be marked explicitly, usually the less common or more 'marked' tone (see markedness). When digits are used, typically 1 is high and 5 is low, except in Omotic languages, where 1 is low and 5 or 6 is high. In languages with just two tones, 1 may be high and 2 low, etc.
AsiaIn the Chinese tradition, digits are assigned to various tones (see tone number). For instance, Standard Mandarin Chinese, the official language of China, has four lexically contrastive tones, and the digits 1, 2, 3, and 4 are assigned to four tones. Syllables can sometimes be toneless and are described as having a neutral tone, typically indicated by omitting tone markings. Chinese varieties are traditionally described in terms of four tonal categories ''ping'' ('level'), ''shang'' ('rising'), ''qu'' ('exiting'), ''ru'' ('entering'), based on the traditional analysis of Middle Chinese (see Four tones); note that these are not at all the same as the four tones of modern standard Mandarin Chinese. Depending on the dialect, each of these categories may then be divided into two tones, typically called ''yin'' and ''yang.'' Typically, syllables carrying the ''ru'' tones are closed by voiceless stops in Chinese varieties that have such coda(s) so in such dialects, ''ru'' is not a tonal category in the sense used by Western linguistics but rather a category of syllable structures. Chinese phonologists perceived these s as having concomitant short tones, justifying them as a tonal category. In Middle Chinese, when the tonal categories were established, the ''shang'' and ''qu'' tones also had characteristic final obstruents with concomitant tonic differences whereas syllables bearing the ''ping'' tone ended in a simple sonorant. An alternative to using the Chinese category names is assigning to each category a digit ranging from 1 to 8, sometimes higher for some Southern Chinese dialects with additional tone splits. Syllables belonging to the same tone category differ drastically in actual phonetic tone across the even among dialects of the same group. For example, the ''yin ping'' tone is a high level tone in Beijing Mandarin Chinese but a low level tone in Tianjin Mandarin Chinese. More iconic systems use tone numbers or an equivalent set of graphic pictograms known as "Y. R. Chao, 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 Chinese tones are transcribed as follows (the tone letters will not display properly without a International Phonetic Alphabet#Typefaces, compatible font installed): A mid-level tone would be indicated by /33/, a low level tone /11/, etc. The doubling of the number is commonly used with level tones to distinguish them from tone numbers; tone 3 in Mandarin Chinese, for example, is not mid /3/. However, it is not necessary with tone letters, so /33/ = or simply . If a distinction is made, it may be that is mid tone in a register system and is mid level tone in a contour system, or may be mid tone on a short syllable or a mid checked tone, while is mid tone on a long syllable or a mid unchecked tone. IPA diacritic notation is also sometimes seen for Chinese. One reason it is not more widespread is that only two contour tones, rising and falling , are widely supported by IPA fonts while several Chinese varieties have more than one rising or falling tone. One common workaround is to retain standard IPA and for high-rising (e.g. ) and high-falling (e.g. ) tones and to use the subscript diacritics and for low-rising (e.g. ) and low-falling (e.g. ) tones.
North AmericaSeveral North American languages have tone, one of which is Cherokee language, Cherokee, an Iroquoian language. Oklahoma Cherokee has six tones (1 low, 2 medium, 3 high, 4 very high, 5 rising and 6 falling). The Tanoan languages, Tanoan languages have tone as well. For instance, Kiowa language, Kiowa has three tones (high, low, falling), while Jemez language, Jemez has four (high, mid, low, and falling). In Mesoamericanist linguistics, /1/ stands for high tone and /5/ stands for low tone, except in languages for which /1/ may be low tone and /3/ high 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 or after a vowel to indicate low tone. The Southern Athabascan languages that include the and Apache languages are tonal, and are analyzed as having two tones: high and low. One variety of Hopi language, Hopi has developed tone, as has the Cheyenne language.
Tone OrthographiesIn Roman script orthographies, a number of approaches are used. Diacritics are common, as in , but they tend to be omitted. Thai alphabet, Thai uses a combination of redundant consonants and diacritics. Tone letters may also be used, for example in Hmong RPA and several minority languages in China. Tone may simply be ignored, as is possible even for highly tonal languages: for example, the Chinese navy has successfully used toneless pinyin in government telegraph communications for decades. Likewise, Chinese reporters abroad may file their stories in toneless pinyin. Dungan language, Dungan, a variety of Mandarin Chinese spoken in Central Asia, has, since 1927, been written in orthographies that do not indicate tone.''Implications of the Soviet Dungan Script for Chinese Language Reform''
Origin and developmentAndré-Georges Haudricourt established that Vietnamese tone originated in earlier consonantal contrasts and suggested similar mechanisms for Chinese. It is now widely held that Old Chinese did not have phonemically contrastive tone. The historical origin of tone is called ''tonogenesis,'' a term coined by James Matisoff.
Tone as an areal featureTone is sometimes an areal feature, areal rather than a Genetic relationship (linguistics), phylogenetic feature. That is to say, a language may acquire tones through bilingualism if influential neighbouring languages are tonal or if speakers of a tonal language language shift, shift to the language in question and bring their tones with them. The process is referred to as contact-induced tonogenesis by linguists.Kirby, James & Marc Brunelle. (2017)
In world languagesTone arose in the Athabascan languages at least twice, in a patchwork of two systems. In some languages, such as , syllables with glottalized consonants (including glottal stops) in the syllable coda developed low tones, whereas in others, such as Slavey language, 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 are due to contrast with the tone triggered by the glottalization. Other Athabascan languages, namely those in western Alaska (such as Koyukon language, Koyukon) and the Pacific coast (such as Hupa language, Hupa), did not develop tone. Thus, the Proto-Athabascan word ' ('water') is toneless ' in Hupa, high-tone ' in Navajo, and low-tone ''tù'' in Slavey; while Proto-Athabascan ' ('knee') is toneless ' in Hupa, low-tone ' in Navajo, and high-tone ' in Slavey. provides a phonetic explanation for the opposite development of tone based on the two different ways of producing glottalized consonants with either tense voice on the preceding vowel, which tends to produce a high F0, or , which tends to produce a low F0. 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. The also have "mirror" tone systems in which the languages in the northwest corner of the Bantu area have the opposite tones of other Bantu languages. Three Algonquian languages developed tone independently of one another and of neighboring languages: Cheyenne language, Cheyenne, Arapaho language, Arapaho, and Kickapoo language, 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] acquired a low tone, and this tone later extended to all vowels followed by a fricative. In Mohawk language, Mohawk, a glottal stop can disappear in a combination of morphemes, leaving behind a long falling tone. Note that it has the reverse effect of the postulated rising tone in or Middle Chinese, derived from a lost final glottal stop. In Korean language, a 2013 study which compared voice recordings of Seoul speech from 1935 and 2005 found that in recent years, Fortis and lenis, lenis consonants (ㅂㅈㄷㄱ), aspirated consonants (ㅍㅊㅌㅋ) and fortis consonants (ㅃㅉㄸㄲ) were shifting from a distinction via voice onset time to that of pitch change, and suggests that the modern Seoul dialect is currently undergoing tonogenesis. These sound shifts still show variations among different speakers, suggesting that the transition is still ongoing. Among 141 examined Seoul speakers, these pitch changes were originally initiated by females born in the 1950s, and has almost reached completion in the speech of those born in the 1990s.
Triggers of tonogenesis"There is tonogenetic potential in various series of phonemes: glottalized vs. plain consonants, unvoiced vs. voiced, aspirated vs. unaspirated, geminates vs. simple (...), and even among vowels". Very often, tone arises as an effect of the Phonological change#Loss, loss or Phonological change#Merger, merger of consonants. In a nontonal language, voiced consonants commonly cause following vowels to be pronounced at a lower pitch than other consonants. That is usually a minor phonetic detail of voicing. However, if consonant voicing is subsequently lost, that incidental pitch difference may be left over to carry the distinction that the voicing previously carried (a process called transphonologization) and thus becomes meaningful (Phonemic contrast, phonemic). This process happened in the Punjabi language: the Punjabi breathy voice, murmured (voiced aspirate) consonants have disappeared and left tone in their wake. If the murmured consonant was at the beginning of a word, it left behind a low tone; at the end, it left behind a high tone. If there was no such consonant, the pitch was unaffected; however, the unaffected words are limited in pitch and did not interfere with the low and high tones. That produced a tone of its own, mid tone. The historical connection is so regular that Punjabi is still written as if it had murmured consonants, and tone is not marked. The written consonants tell the reader which tone to use. Similarly, final fricatives or other consonants may phonetically affect the pitch of preceding vowels, and if they then lenition, weaken to and finally disappear completely, the difference in pitch, now a true difference in tone, carries on in their stead. This was the case with Chinese. Two of the three tones of Middle Chinese, the "rising" and the "departing" tones, arose as the final consonants and disappeared, while syllables that ended with neither of these consonants were interpreted as carrying the third tone, "even". Most varieties descending from Middle Chinese were further affected by a tone split in which each tone divided in two depending on whether the initial consonant was voiced. Vowels following a voiced consonant (depressor consonant) acquired a lower tone as the voicing lost its distinctiveness. The same changes affected many other languages in the same area, and at around the same time (AD 1000–1500). The tone split, for example, also occurred in and . 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 so if the glottal stop causes vowel glottalization, that will tend to leave behind a low vowel). A final fricative tends to leave a preceding vowel with a low or falling tone. Vowel phonation also frequently develops into tone, as can be seen in the case of Burmese.
Stages of tonogenesis1. The table below is the process of tonogenesis in Hmong language, White Hmong, described by Martha Ratliff. The tone values described in the table are from Christina Esposito. 2. The table below shows the tonogenesis. The tone values are taken from James Kirby. 3. The table below is the tonogenesis of Tai Dam language, Tai Dam (Black Tai). Displayed in the first row is the Proto-Southern Kra-Dai, as reconstructed by Norquest. Tone values are taken from Pittayaporn. 4. The table below shows the Chinese language tonogenesis. The tone values are listed below: #SC= Standard Chinese (Putonghua) #TSH= Sixian dialect, Taiwanese Sixian Hakka #THH= Hailu dialect, Taiwanese Hailu Hakka #XMM= Amoy dialect, Xiamen Min (Amoy) #FZM= Fuzhou dialect, Fuzhou Min #SZW= Suzhou dialect, Suzhou Wu #SXW= Shaoxing dialect, Shaoxing Wu The tones across all Variety (linguistics), varieties (or dialects) of Chinese correspond to each other, although they may not correspond to each other perfectly. Moreover, listed above are citation tones, but in actual conversations, obligatory tone sandhi, sandhi rules will reshape them. The Sixian and Hailu Hakka in Taiwan are famous for their near-regular and opposite pattern (of pitch height). Both will be compared with Standard Chinese below. #H: high; M: mid; L: low; #L: level; R: rising; F: falling 5. The table below shows Punjabi tonogenesis in bisyllabic words. Unlike the above for examples, Punjab was not under the east Asian tone sprachbund, instead belonging to a separate one in its own area of Punjab. As well, unlike the above languages, which developed tone from syllable endings, Punjab developed tone from its voiced aspirated stops losing their aspiration. Tone does occur in monosyllabic words as well, but are not discussed in the chart below. (C = any consonant, T = non-retroflex stop, R = retroflex stop; C̬ = voiced, C̥ = unvoiced; Cʰ = aspirated; V = Neutral tone, V́ = Rising tone, V̀ = Falling tone)
List of tonal languages
AfricaMost languages of Sub-Saharan Africa are members of the Niger–Congo languages, Niger-Congo family, which is predominantly tonal; notable exceptions are Swahili language, Swahili (in the southeast), most languages spoken in the Senegambia (among them Wolof language, Wolof, Serer language, Serer and Cangin languages), and Fula language, Fulani. The Afroasiatic languages include both tonal (Chadic languages, Chadic, Omotic languages, Omotic) and nontonal (Semitic languages, Semitic, Berber languages, Berber, Egyptian language, Egyptian, and most Cushitic languages, Cushitic) branches. All three language families—Khoe languages, Khoe, Kx'a languages, Kx'a and Tuu languages, Tuu—are tonal. All languages of the Nilotic languages, Nilotic language family are tonal.
AsiaNumerous tonal languages are widely spoken in China and Mainland Southeast Asia. Sino-Tibetan languages (including Meitei language, Meitei-Lon, Burmese, Mog language, Mog and most ; though some, such as , are only marginally tonal) and Kra–Dai languages (including and Lao language, Lao) are mostly tonal. The Hmong–Mien languages are some of the most tonal languages in the world, with as many as twelve phonemically distinct tones. Austroasiatic (such as Khmer language, Khmer and Mon language, Mon) and Austronesian languages, Austronesian (such as Malay language, Malay, Javanese language, Javanese, Tagalog language, Tagalog, and Māori language, Maori) languages are mostly non tonal with the rare exception of Austroasiatic languages like , and Austronesian languages like Cèmuhî language, Cèmuhî and Tsat language, Tsat. Tones in and Tsat language, Tsat may result from Chinese language, Chinese influence on both languages. There were tones in Middle Korean. Other languages represented in the region, such as Mongolian language, Mongolian, Uyghur language, Uyghur, and Japanese language, Japanese belong to language families that do not contain any tonality as defined here. In South Asia tonal languages are rare, but some Indo-Aryan languages have tonality, including , Dogri language, Dogri, and Lahnda language, Lahnda as well as many Bengali-Assamese languages such as Sylheti language, Sylheti, Rohingya language, Rohingya, Chittagonian language, Chittagonian, and Chakma language, Chakma.
AmericaA large number of North, South and Central American languages are tonal, including many of the Athabaskan languages of Alaska and the Southwestern United States, American Southwest (including ), and the Oto-Manguean languages of Mexico. Among the Mayan languages, which are mostly non-tonal, Yucatec Maya language, Yucatec (with the largest number of speakers), Uspantek language, Uspantek, and one dialect of Tzotzil language, Tzotzil have developed tone systems. The of the western Amazon is perhaps the most tonal language of the Americas. Other languages of the western Amazon have fairly simple tone systems as well. However, although tone systems have been recorded for many American languages, little theoretical work has been completed for the characterization of their tone systems. In different cases, Oto-Manguean tone languages in Mexico have been found to possess tone systems similar to both Asian and African tone languages.
SummaryLanguages that are tonal include: * Over 50% of the Sino-Tibetan languages. All Sinitic languages (most prominently, the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese languages), some Tibetic languages, including the standard languages of Tibet and Bhutan, and Burmese. * In the Austroasiatic languages, Austroasiatic family, and other members of the Vietic languages family are tonal. Other branches of this family, such as Mon language, Mon, Khmer language, Khmer, and the Munda languages, are entirely non-tonal. * Some of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, Malayo-Polynesian branch of Austronesian languages in New Caledonia (such as Paicî language, Paicî and Cèmuhî language, Cèmuhî) and New Guinea (such as Mor language (Austronesian), Mor, Ma'ya language, Ma'ya and Matbat language, Matbat) plus some of the Chamic languages such as Tsat language, Tsat in Hainan are tonal. * The entire Kra–Dai family, spoken mainly in China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, and including and Lao language, Lao, is tonal. * The entire Hmong–Mien languages, Hmong–Mien family is highly tonal. * Many Afroasiatic languages in the Chadic and Omotic branches have tone systems, including Hausa language, Hausa. * The vast majority of Niger–Congo languages, such as Ewe language, Ewe, Igbo language, Igbo, Lingala language, Lingala, Maninka language, Maninka, , and the Zulu language, Zulu, have tone systems. The and Southern Mande languages have the most complex. Notable non-tonal Niger–Congo languages are Swahili language, Swahili, Fula language, Fula, and Wolof language, Wolof. * All Nilotic languages such as the Dinka language, the Maa languages, the Luo languages and Kalenjin languages have tone systems. * All Khoisan languages in southern Africa have tone systems; some languages like Sandawe language, Sandawe have tone systems like that of Cantonese. * Slightly more than half of the Athabaskan languages, such as , have tone systems (languages in California and Oregon, and a few in Alaska, excluded). The Athabaskan tone languages fall into two "mirror image" groups. That is, a word which has a high tone in one language will have a cognate with a low tone in another, and vice versa. * Iroquoian languages like Mohawk language, Mohawk commonly have tone; the Cherokee language has the most extensive tonal inventory, with six tones, of which four are contours. Here the correlation between contour tone and simple syllable structures is clearly shown; Cherokee phonotactics permit only syllables of the structure (s)(C)V. * All Oto-Manguean languages are tonal. In some cases, as with Mixtec, tone system variations between dialects are sufficiently great to cause mutual unintelligibility. * The of the western Amazon is strongly tonal. Various Arawakan languages have relatively basic tone systems. * Many languages of New Guinea like Siane language, Siane possess register tone systems. * Some Indo-European languages as well as others possess what is termed , where only the stressed syllable of a word can have different contour tones; these are not always considered to be cases of tone language. * Some European-based creole languages, such as Saramaccan language, Saramaccan and Papiamento, have tone from their African Stratum (linguistics)#Substratum, substratum languages. In some cases it is difficult to determine whether a language is tonal. 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 (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 phoneme, 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 19th-century constructed language Solresol can consist of only tone, but unlike all natural tonal languages, Solresol's tone is absolute, rather than relative, and no tone sandhi occurs.
See also* Meeussen's rule * Tone letter * Tone name * Tone number * Tone pattern * Musical language * Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den
Bibliography* * * * * * * HAL 01678018. ** * Reprinted (with additions). ** * ** Translation of . * * * * * * * * * * * * (Reprinted 1972, ). * * (pbk).