Tone name

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In tonal languages, tone names are the names given to the tones these languages use.

Pitch contours of the four Mandarin tones Pinyin Tone Chart.svg
Pitch contours of the four Mandarin tones
Northern Vietnamese (non-Hanoi) tones as uttered by a male speaker in isolation. From Nguyen & Edmondson (1998) harvcoltxt error: no target: CITEREFNguyenEdmondson1998 (help) VietnameseToneNorthern.png
Northern Vietnamese (non-Hanoi) tones as uttered by a male speaker in isolation. From Nguyễn & Edmondson (1998)
Thai language tone chart Thai tones.svg
Thai language tone chart
ToneThaiExamplePhonemicPhoneticExample meaning in English
midสามัญนา/nāː/[naː˧]paddy field
lowเอกหน่า/nàː/[naː˩](a nickname)
highตรีน้า/náː/[naː˧˥] or [naː˥]maternal aunt or uncle younger than one's mother
risingจัตวาหนา/nǎː/[naː˩˩˦] or [naː˩˦]thick

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Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning – that is, to distinguish or to inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called intonation, but not all languages use tones to distinguish words or their inflections, analogously to consonants and vowels. Languages that do have this feature are called tonal languages; the distinctive tone patterns of such a language are sometimes called tonemes, by analogy with phoneme. Tonal languages are common in East and Southeast Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas; as many as seventy percent of world languages may be tonal.

Thai language language spoken in Thailand

Thai, Central Thai, is the official language of Thailand and the first language of the Central Thai people. It is a member of the Tai group of the Kra–Dai language family, and one of over 60 languages of Thailand. Over half of Thai vocabulary is derived from or borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language, similar to Chinese and Vietnamese.

Lao language Tai–Kadai language official in Laos

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A tone contour, or contour tone, 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.

The Shanghainese language, also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu language or Hu dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese spoken in the central districts of the City of Shanghai and its surrounding areas. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Shanghainese, like other Wu variants, is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, such as Mandarin.

The Shan language is the native language of the Shan people and is mostly spoken in Shan State, Burma. It is also spoken in pockets of Kachin State in Burma, in Northern Thailand and decreasingly in Assam. Shan is a member of the Tai–Kadai language family and is related to Thai. It has five tones, which do not correspond exactly to Thai tones, plus a "sixth tone" used for emphasis. It is called Tai Yai or Tai Long in the Tai languages.

Hmong language West Hmongic dialect continuum

Hmong or Mong, known as Miao in China, is a dialect continuum of the West Hmongic branch of the Hmongic languages spoken by the Hmong of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hainan, northern Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. There are some 2.7 million speakers of varieties that are largely mutually intelligible, including over 280,000 Hmong Americans as of 2013. Over half of all Hmong speakers speak the various dialects in China, where the Dananshan (大南山) dialect forms the basis of the standard language. However, Hmong Daw (White) and Mong Njua (Green) are widely known only in Laos and the United States; Dananshan is more widely known in the native region of Hmong.

Lisu is a tonal Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Yunnan, northern Burma (Myanmar), and Thailand and a small part of India. Along with Lipo, it is one of two languages of the Lisu people. Lisu has many dialects that originate from the country in which they live. Hua Lisu, Pai Lisu, and Lu Shi Lisu dialects are spoken in China. Although they are mutually intelligible, some have many more loan words from other languages than others.

General Chinese is a diaphonemic orthography invented by Yuen Ren Chao to represent the pronunciations of all major varieties of Chinese simultaneously. It is "the most complete genuine Chinese diasystem yet published". It can also be used for the Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese pronunciations of Chinese characters, and challenges the claim that Chinese characters are required for interdialectal communication in written Chinese.

Zhongyuan Yinyun, literally meaning "Rhymes of the central plain", is a rime book from the Yuan dynasty compiled by Zhou Deqing (周德清) in 1324. An important work for the study of historical Chinese phonology, it testifies many phonological changes from Middle Chinese to Old Mandarin, such as the reduction and disappearance of final stop consonants and the reorganization of the Middle Chinese tones. Though often termed a "rime dictionary", the work does not provide meanings for its entries.

A checked tone, commonly known by the Chinese calque entering tone, is one of the four syllable types in the phonology in Middle Chinese. Although usually translated as "tone", a checked tone is not a tone in the phonetic sense but rather a syllable that ends in a stop consonant or a glottal stop. Separating the checked tone allows -p, -t, and -k to be treated as allophones of -m, -n, and -ng, respectively, since they are in complementary distribution. Stops appear only in the checked tone, and nasals appear only in the other tones. Because of the origin of tone in Chinese, the number of tones found in such syllables is smaller than the number of tones in other syllables. In Chinese phonetics, they have traditionally been counted separately.

Tone numbers are numerical digits used like letters to mark the tones of a language. The number is usually placed after a romanized syllable. Tone numbers are defined for a particular language, so they have little meaning between languages.

Sichuanese dialects Branch of the Mandarin Chinese language family

Sichuanese or Szechwanese (simplified Chinese: 四川话; traditional Chinese: 四川話; Sichuanese Pinyin: Si4cuan1hua4; pinyin: Sìchuānhuà; Wade–Giles: Szŭ4-ch'uan1-hua4), also called Sichuanese/Szechwanese Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 四川官话; traditional Chinese: 四川官話; pinyin: Sìchuān Guānhuà) is a branch of Southwestern Mandarin spoken mainly in Sichuan and Chongqing, which was part of Sichuan Province until 1997, and the adjacent regions of their neighboring provinces, such as Hubei, Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Shaanxi. Although "Sichuanese" is often synonymous with the Chengdu-Chongqing dialect, there is still a great amount of diversity among the Sichuanese dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible with each other. In addition, because Sichuanese is the lingua franca in Sichuan, Chongqing and part of Tibet, it is also used by many Tibetan, Yi, Qiang and other ethnic minority groups as a second language.

Wenzhounese, also known as Oujiang, Tong Au or Auish, is the language spoken in Wenzhou, the southern prefecture of Zhejiang, China. Nicknamed the "Devil's Language" for its complexity and difficulty, it is the most divergent division of Wu Chinese, with little to no mutual intelligibility with other Wu dialects or any other variety of Chinese. It features noticeable elements in common with Min Chinese, which is spoken to the south in Fujian. Oujiang is sometimes used as the broader term, and Wenzhou for Wenzhounese proper in a narrow sense.

Tone letters are letters that represent the tones of a language, most commonly in languages with contour tones.

This article summarizes the phonology of Standard Chinese.

Quanzhou dialect dialect of Hokkien

The Quanzhou dialect, also known as the Chin-chew dialect, is a dialect of Hokkien that is spoken in southern Fujian, in the area centered on the city of Quanzhou. Due to migration, variations of the Quanzhou dialect are spoken outside of Quanzhou, notably in Taiwan and many Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Four tones (Middle Chinese) Tones of Chinese

The four tones of Chinese poetry and dialectology are four traditional tone classes of Chinese words. They play an important role in Chinese poetry and in comparative studies of tonal development in the modern varieties of Chinese, both in traditional Chinese and in Western linguistics. They correspond to the phonology of Middle Chinese, and are named even or level, rising, departing, and entering or checked. Due to historic splits and mergers, none of the modern varieties of Chinese have the exact four tones of Middle Chinese, but they are noted in rhyming dictionaries.

Qiyang dialect is a dialect of Xiang Chinese spoken in Qiyang County, Hunan province.

Ruian dialect is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in Ruian. It belongs to the Oujiang sub-group of Wu Chinese dialects. It is closely related to Pingyang dialect and Lucheng dialect, generally referred as Wenzhounese.


  1. Frankfurter, Oscar. Elements of Siamese grammar with appendices. American Presbyterian mission press, 1900 (Full text available on Google Books)