Posted: Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am
by Zwaarddijk
don't get me started wrote:I have not come across descriptions of Japanese as a tonal language before. If it is a tonal language, then it is a tonal language in a different way to more canonical tonal languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai and Vietnamese.

Yeah, as I pointed out - Japanese is considered a pitch accented language:

Zwaarddijk wrote:Japanese isn't generally considered a tonal language, it's considered a pitch accented language. The difference may seem rather small, but this essentially means that tonal distinctions only occur in stressed syllables, whereas in other tonal languages, it can occur in any syllable whatsoever. Pitch accented languages actually occur in Europe - Swedish*, Norwegian, Serbo-Croatian, the Baltic languages (Latvian and Lithuanian).

don't get me started wrote:Widecora is correct to point out that Hashi cane be either bridge 橋 or chopsticks 箸, with the alternate stress on the syllables to differentiate. However, the way that is is done in Tokyo (標準語 so-called standard Japanese) and the way it is done in Kansai (関西弁 Kansai dialect ) is opposite.( Don't ask me which is which...I always get it messed up!!)

Such different ways of distinguishing things in different regional accents/dialects is not unusual for tonal languages either, but yeah, also occurs in pitch accented languages.

don't get me started wrote:Anthony Burgess in his book 'A Mouthful of Air' recounts how when he was teaching English in Malaysia his Chinese students were much more sensitized to tone and pitch then students who were not L1 speakers of tonal languages. He noticed that when he taught the collocative pair "knife and fork" the students faithfully copied the contrastive stress and tone variations that he had used, even when they went on to use the words singly in other sentences.

Apparently, speakers of tonal languages are also more likely to develop perfect pitch.