Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Lexical Tone

Lexical Tone

Lexical tone is the distinctive pitch level carried by the syllable of a word which is an essential feature of the meaning of that word.

An inventory of minimally distinctive pairs and sets in the lexicon will give you some idea of the functional load of tone in the lexicon.

(Yaka [Bantu pygmy, Central African Republic])

Note:

  • Tone is marked as follows:
    • The acute accent |á| means high tone
    • The unmarked |a| means low tone

These are examples of lexical tone in nouns.

  • mbóka village’
  • mboká ‘field’
  • mbóka ‘civet cat’
  • kusu ‘termite hill’
  • kúsú ‘species of tree’
  • mɔkɔ ‘evening’
  • mɔkɔ́ ‘kind of honey’
  • mɔ́kɔ ‘ceinture degrimpage’

These are examples of lexical tone in verbs:

  • tanga ‘to drip’
  • tánga ‘to count, to read’
  • kála ‘to take all in one go’
  • kala ‘to escape’

(Ngiti [Central Sudanic, Zaire])

Note:

  • Tone is marked as follows:
    • The acute accent |á| means high tone
    • The grave accent |à| means low tone
    • The unmarked |a| means mid tone
    • The wedge |ǎ| means rising tone

These are examples of lexical tone in pronouns:

  • ma
  • mǎ ‘we’
  • nyɨ ‘you’ (singular)
  • nyɨô ‘you’ (plural)
  • àbadhi ‘he’
  • abádh" ‘they’

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Date of creation
05-Ago-2021
Accepted term
05-Ago-2021
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