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Re: Japanese use of tones

    Date: Fri, 18 Jan 91 18:11:02 EST
    From: rws@expo.lcs.mit.edu (Bob Scheifler)

    Japanese does have tonal qualities for the spoken language.

Chinese has syllable tones, Japanese has a tonal word accent.

In Chinese, each syllable is assigned one of the tones.  This makes up a
fundamental part of the lexicon.

In Japanese, a word can have an abstract accent marker.  The position of
this marker, together with rules of the language (dialect), determines
the tones of the syllables of the word.

This leads to fairly significant restrictions on the valid tonal
patterns of words.  Modern linguists therefore do not consider the
tonemes part of the lexicon, but rather the accent marker.

Words can, of course, still be distinguished by accent, and hence by
tone in the surface representation.

So, Japanese does something with tone rather similar to what English
does with stress.  Japanese is even closer to (a widely accepted theory
for the pronunciation of) Ancient Attic Greek.