Tone

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Definition

In many, so-called tone languages, a difference in pitch is used to distinguish lexical items. In such languages tone is a distinctive feature. The most common opposition is that between a high and a low tone. But also three- or four-way tonal distinctions occur in languages. A high tone is usually indicated with an acute (tá) and a low tone with a grave (tà).

Example

In Margi we find the following lexical items:

(i)  shú	'tail'
     shù	'to dry up'

Also we may find so-called contour tones, i.e. a high and a low tone realized on the same vowel. We distinguish between a rising tone (te) and a falling tone (tà). Contour tones are often analysed as complex tones. See tone stability.

See also

Links


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