Contour tone

A tone contour is a tone in a tonal language which shifts from one pitch to another over the course of the syllable or word. Tone contours are especially common in East and Southeast Asia, but occur elsewhere, such as the Kru languages of Liberia and the Ju languages of Namibia.

Themes

When the pitch descends, the contour is called a falling tone; when it ascends, a rising tone; when it descends and then returns, a dipping or falling-rising tone; and when it ascends and then returns, it is called a peaking or rising-falling tone. A tone in a contour-tone language which remains at approximately an even pitch is called a level tone. Tones which are too short to exhibit much of a contour, typically because of a final plosive consonant, may be called checked, abrupt, clipped, or stopped tones.

Transcription

There are three phonetic conventions for transcribing tone contours.

  • Diacritics such as ⟨â⟩ and ⟨ǎ⟩ are used for falling and rising tones; diacritics for dipping and peaking tones, and well as distinguishing between lower and higher rising or falling tones, are not widely supported by computer fonts as of 2008.[1] This contrasts with register tones, where diacritics such as high ⟨á⟩, mid ⟨ā⟩, and low ⟨à⟩ are usually sufficient for transcription. (These are also used for high, mid, and low level contour tones.)
  • Tone letters such as mid level ⟨˧⟩, high falling ⟨˥˩⟩, low falling ⟨˨˩⟩, mid rising ⟨˧˥⟩, low rising ⟨˩˧⟩, dipping ⟨˨˩˦⟩, and peaking ⟨˧˦˩⟩.
  • Numerical substitutions for tone letters. The seven tones above would be written ⟨33⟩, ⟨51⟩, ⟨21⟩, ⟨35⟩, ⟨13⟩, ⟨214⟩, ⟨341⟩, for an Asian language, or ⟨33⟩, ⟨15⟩, ⟨45⟩, ⟨31⟩, ⟨53⟩, ⟨452⟩, ⟨325⟩, for an African or American language. (The doubling of the numeral in ⟨33⟩ in the level tone is used to disambiguate from a "tone 3", which in general is not at pitch level 3.)

See also

Notes


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.