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  • hardie karges 5:00 am on December 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , tonality   

    Language can be fattening if you use too much shortening. 

    When w’d’ya’ want?’ becomes what you want and ‘how d’ya’ do?’ becomes how you do, then you know you’re becoming fluent in English and therefore incomprehensible to much of the world. But be careful. I might have to ask, “wha’d’you say” when you ask, “wha’ ‘tcha’ name?” but soon you’ll get it right to the nth degree and “wha ‘tsyer name?” will roll off your tongue like melted butter and you’ll never have to ask me “wha’ cha’ say?” again. It’s not a good idea to learn shortcuts in language. It’s better if they learn themselves. Otherwise it sounds unnatural and pretentious. There’s no substitute for speaking correctly, grammar-perfect and sound specific. Speed creates the shortcuts of necessity, the unaccented valleys of pitch becoming indistinct filler. For speakers of tonal languages, like here in Interzone, English by convention almost becomes a tonal language itself, changes in emotional pitch imitated as if a part of the internal structure itself. For the uninitiated, tonal languages employ changes in pitch to distinguish different words from each other, not to show emotion. We use volume for that. Got it? A rising tone does not necessarily denote a question. Though the native language will employ various tones, the borrowed tongue will invariably sound monotonal, hence the frequent borrowing of emotional pitch to compensate for the otherwise lack of sonic inflection. All this is understandable and easily predictable. Stranger is the predilection of some speakers of tonal languages to borrow what few grammatical inflections remain in the English language to use in their own, which has none otherwise. Thus the word ‘American’ is used as often as the word ‘America’, likewise ‘Spanish’ for ‘Spain’, though ‘Espanol’ is unknown. My box can’t process Arabic.

  • hardie karges 7:16 am on November 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , tonality   

    Do tonal languages yield tonal emotions? 

    This would be the true deciding factor in the Whorf/Sapirian vs. Chomsky debate, if such things could indeed be measured. Why do polytonal primary languages yield to such monotonal secondary languages? When tone becomes a function of grammar, it ceases to be a function of emotional expression. Asians in general speak the most boring English imaginable, while Farangs speaking Thai butcher tones with a ball-peen hammer when they can speak them at all. To me tones seem a lousy way to build a language, or maybe just a lazy way. Thais seem to prefer to use as few syllables as possible most of the time, yet fill their speech with euphonic couplets analogous to “creepy-crawly”, “razzle-dazzle”, etc. whenever possible. In fact, pronunciation, including tone, is extremely precise at the risk of miscomprehension, while meaning tends to be rather vague even when grammar-perfect. Tonality has never been successfully reconstructed in any proto-language, indicating that it is a patchwork system at best. Thai and Lao, in fact, differ greatly in tone, even though they are essentially the same language and mutually comprehensible with only minor modifications. Nevertheless, tonal languages are widespread throughout the world, and not only in Chinese-related cultures. All African Bantu languages are tonal except one, the most widespread one, Swahili. That modern Mandarin, the most widely spoken language in the world, is simpler than the more archaic Cantonese, like English and German, seems to confirm that languages seem to simplify themselves in proportion to the spread of their use.

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