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Random Questions #1: Tone Languages

From:Paul Edson <conlang@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 20, 2002, 15:52
I just received my copy of the Handbook of the IPA
yesterday, and in reading through the "Introduction to the
IPA" chapter, I came across the following few sentences in
the discussion on tone markers: "Another domain of pitch
variation is the word or syllable, and such pitch variation
serves to distinguish words in much the same way as their
segmental make-up does. Languages in which pitch has this
function are called tone languages, and are thought to form
a majority of the languages of the world."

The question, part 1: Are there really more tone languages
than non-tone languages? It's always seemed to me in my
casual browsing through the Fields of Lex that tone
languages seemed to be an exception, but the browsing has
been casual at best...

The question, part 2: If so, is the tonal::non-tonal ratio
similar in known ConLangs? I'd think not, again based on
cursory observation.

The question, part 3: How many here have used tone for their
languages, and in what ways?

Paul Edson (

"Leibniz never married; he had considered it at the age of
fifty; but the person he had in mind asked for time to
reflect. This gave Leibniz time to reflect, too, and so he
never married."
-Fontenelle, _Eloge de le Leibniz_


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Bob Greenwade <bob.greenwade@...>