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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tone Deaf

Asian languages aren't the only ones that are tonal. Even English can be tonal

18 comments:

  1. Yeah, but in English, tones only serve to identify speaker's intention or emotion. In actual tonal languages, if you switch tones, they become literally different words.

    Examples in Vietnamese (same spellings, different tonal marks)
    Dưa= melon
    Dứa= pineapple
    Dừa= cocconut
    Dựa= to lean on something (verb)

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    1. Wow, that's harsh - three different fruit just distinguished by tone!

      Though I suppose to a Vietnamese they're as different as "bat" and "bet", or "big" and "pig", or "pig" and "pick".

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    2. Yes you're right. They're very distinguishable if you grow up with the language. They just give an especially hard time to Western learners, for our own amusement :)

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    3. In English we do use tones. Or stresses I guess you could call them.
      Record (Noun) and Record (Verb) are an example of this but there are many: Reject, Conflict, Invite, Contest, etc.

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    4. Tones are not stresses. Tones in tonal languages differ from one another like musical notes.

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  2. It reminds me of this video on the origin of "Dude": https://youtu.be/HMiV5cNdqyU?t=1m44s

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    1. Dude, that was interesting.

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    2. So "dudes" were just hipsters....WOW

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  3. I forgot to mention that this video shows at 1:44 how the intonation of "Dude" changes its meaning

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  4. Haha. My roommate tried to learn Chinese for a few months, but eventually he gave up because of the tones. He decided to just stick to Russian.
    Also, thank goodness Korean isn't tonal or I might have given up, too. After observing my friends learning several different languages, it seems that Korean is one of the easier Asian languages to pick up. Lucky me.

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    1. The Gyeongsang Dialect of Korean spoken in Busan, Daegu, Gumi, Ulsan, and other southeastern cities has retained pitch accents from Middle Korean, which means it is technically tonal. North Korean Hamhung dialect supposedly retains the pitch accent as well.

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  5. Tonal languages are not found in Asia alone. Swedish is a tonal language as well (in the same manner Chinese or Vietnamese are tonal languages).

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    1. According to some scientists, I should have added ...

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    2. This is new and certainly cries for references. Can you tell a pair of words with different meanings that are distinguished only by their tone?

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    3. Anden. When the stress is only on the first syllable it means "the duck", when you have a secondary stress on -den it means "the ghost".

      In my opinion it is a slight exaggeration to call Swedish a tonal language. This difference exists, there are more examples, and it is quite special for a European language. But it is more of a kink than a defining feature of the language.

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    4. I think the problem is what you would consider a tonal language. Swedish has a more simple system (often called pitch accent) than e.g. Chinese. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_phonology#Stress_and_pitch

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  6. Is that Erik in the comic? Should this strip be credited to him as well as Malachi?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that is him in the comic, but I came up with this one based on a passing comment he made. I still wanted to set it in Asia, of course.

      I'm sure Erik will appreciate you looking out for him!

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