Sing like you mean it! – the Linguistics of Tonal Languages

It takes more than vowels and consonants to speak a tonal language. You need musical pieces called “tonemes” to make meaning. Here’s how tones work.

This animated video tours the linguistics of tonality – how some languages pay attention to changes in pitch. Learn the basics of tonemes. Think about the difference between register tones and contour tones. Meet some singsongy examples, including the dreaded six tones of Cantonese!

Animation, art and audio by NativLang
Photos from
Music: Tikopia by Kevin MacLeod (

Post time: Jan-26-2018


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