Tones vs stress throughout history

Don’t get on my case about tones. I’m under stress.

languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4906#more-4906

[quote=“rowland”]Don’t get on my case about tones. I’m under stress.

languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4906#more-4906[/quote]

Good stuff.

very possible. Many of the traditional Han Chinese tonal features are wiped out in Mandarin. There are less tones, and no apparent rules for the redistribution to the remaining tones. Shanghainese is probably an example of such an evolution.

however, I don’t share the popular view that Middle Chinese has more tones than the Old Chinese. Just because Qieyin mentioned 4 tones, doesn’t mean there aren’t 8 or 9 tones as most classical Chinese languages today. I think people simply came up with a more detailed description by the time of Middle Chinese, probably due to an increase in poem popularity, foreign interactions and translations, making scholars more aware of the difference in tones.

They didn’t have a better description because native speakers usually aren’t aware of tones unless someone teach them how to analyze tones. Native Holo and Hakka speaking elderly who aren’t interested in literatures, history, linguistics or culture preservation usually have no clue how many tones their languages have, not to mention how to analyze them. But if someone teach it to them a couple of times, they will be better at it than anyone else.

If anything, Mandarin demonstrates through interactions and being conquered, the Chinese language only loses tonal characteristics. So why would a transition from Old to Middle Chinese (which was an extended era of foreign rule) generate more tones in the language?

[quote=“hansioux”][quote]
They didn’t have a better description because native speakers usually aren’t aware of tones unless someone teach them how to analyze tones. Native Holo and Hakka speaking elderly who aren’t interested in literatures, history, linguistics or culture preservation usually have no clue how many tones their languages have, not to mention how to analyze them. But if someone teach it to them a couple of times, they will be better at it than anyone else.
[/quote][/quote]

I’ve suspected this. When I was bumming around northern Taiwan this past winter, I got the suspicion that people were speaking Mandarin phonemes with tones borrowed from other versions of Chinese. I heard three or four different ways to say “zheli” and started to ask myself if getting the tones exactly right was the best investment of my time and effort.

Those subway announcements are like a Rosetta stone.

Another beef I have with the linguistic terminology is with the translation of the classical 4 tones, 平上去入. Somewhere along the line they came up with the great idea to translate these tone names by it’s word meaning. So 平 becomes the “even tone”, 上 becomes the “rising tone”, 去 becomes the “leaving tone” and 入 becomes the “entering tone”.

However such translation is very misleading. Because these tonal names weren’t chosen for its descriptive meaning of the tone values. They were chosen because at the time when 平上去入 was invented, 平 is pronounced like a pingsheng tone, 上 is pronounced like a shangsheng tone, and so on.

This is still evident in Holo. In Holo tone 1, 5 are Ping; 2, 6 are shang, 3, 7 are qu, and 4, 8 are ru. Because the tones were organized in the order of Ping Shang Qu Ru, and by two sets, Ying and Yang.

The tonal names in Holo are:
平 pîng (5) / pîⁿ (5) ,上 sióng (2) / siáng (2),去 khì (3),入 ji̍p (8)

They match what they are supposed to sound like, hence they were chosen to represent the tones.

Saying 上 is the rising tone is just confusing as frak.

I love the part where he analyzed how the Mandarin 4 tones comes from…

I did not realize aspiration determines the tone in Mandarin… Following romanization in Tailo (ie. the consonants are in IPA):

such as there are words pronounced [thou2] (頭) but there are no words for [thou3], there will only be words in [tou3] (斗). On the flip there, there won’t be words read as [tou2].

Also, there are no 1st tone words that begins with L.

very possible. Many of the traditional Han Chinese tonal features are wiped out in Mandarin. There are less tones, and no apparent rules for the redistribution to the remaining tones. Shanghainese is probably an example of such an evolution.
[/quote]

There are rules for the development of tones in Shanghainese.

This is the most important sentence in the entire piece. Saying that Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect is going to lose their tones is speculation.

About 平上去入. Nobody knows the phonetic values of these. We discovered them in a book – Guangyun. We assume ping was level and what not, but there is no evidence.

[quote=“hansioux”]
I did not realize aspiration determines the tone in Mandarin… Following romanization in Tailo (ie. the consonants are in IPA):

such as there are words pronounced [thou2] (頭) but there are no words for [thou3], there will only be words in [tou3] (斗). On the flip there, there won’t be words read as [tou2].[/quote]

Where did you see that? I missed it. I don’t see any dou2 words, but not seeing correlation in a quick look at some other sounds.

For a quick example, how about “拉”?

[quote=“archylgp”]

This is the most important sentence in the entire piece. Saying that Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect is going to lose their tones is speculation.

About 平上去入. Nobody knows the phonetic values of these. We discovered them in a book – Guangyun. We assume ping was level and what not, but there is no evidence.[/quote]

Not entirely true. The first mention of 4 tones in literature is found in the Annal of Liang (梁書 Liang Su, 502~557), where a dude by the name of Shen Yue (沈約) wrote a book about the 4 tones. Emperor Wu of Liang (梁武帝), the one that likes to become a monk, summoned Shen to learn more about this. When he asked Shen what the heck is 4 tones, Shen gave an example of 天子聖哲 (literally means Emperor is Holy and Wise), each character representing a tone.

Later Qie-Yun (切韻) written in Sui dynasty thought 天子聖哲 is too much of a kiss ass (and perhaps the Sui Emperor Yang was too much of an idiot for him to use that example in his book), so the author changed it to a neutral example of 平上去入. The tones are listed in the same order as 天子聖哲.

Using my previous examination method:

Holo tones:
Ping Shang Qu Ru
平 上 去 入
Ying 1 2 3 4
Yang 5 6 7 8

The tonal names of 天子聖哲 in Holo are:
天 thian (1) ,子 tsú (2) / tsí (2),聖 sèng (3),哲 tiat (4)
平 pîng (5) / pîⁿ (5) ,上 sióng (2) / siáng (2),去 khì (3),入 ji̍p (8)

I’d say while there might not be a way to know what the tonal values are during Liang or Sui, but we have a pretty good idea which words belongs to what tone based on the close correspondence between Holo and Cantonese to tones presented in the books.

[quote=“Tempo Gain”][quote=“hansioux”]
I did not realize aspiration determines the tone in Mandarin… Following romanization in Tailo (ie. the consonants are in IPA):

such as there are words pronounced [thou2] (頭) but there are no words for [thou3], there will only be words in [tou3] (斗). On the flip there, there won’t be words read as [tou2].[/quote]

Where did you see that? I missed it. I don’t see any dou2 words, but not seeing correlation in a quick look at some other sounds.

For a quick example, how about “拉”?[/quote]

The t->th example is just before the L section. I probably came up with the examples myself.

I think the [a] is an exception for [La1]. Another exception is [Li1] 哩, but that is just mainly a phono to approximate other sounds.

For the t->th example,

[tha1] 他 but no [tha2]
[ta2] 達