belarus
BE
bulgaria
BG
bangladesh
BN
bosnia
BS
spain
CA
czech_republic
CS
germany
DE
greece
EL
usa
EM
great_britain
EN
esperanto
EO
spain
ES
estonia
ET
iran
FA
finnland
FI
france
FR
israel
HE
croatia
HR
hungary
HU
indonesia
ID
italy
IT
japan
JA
georgia
KA
india
KN
south_korea
KO
lithuania
LT
latvia
LV
india
MR
netherlands
NL
india
PA
poland
PL
portugal
PT
brazil
PX
romania
RO
russia
RU
slovakia
SK
serbia
SR
sweden
SV
ukraine
UK
vietnam
VI
china
ZH

Tonal Languages

Most of all the languages spoken worldwide are tonal languages. With tonal languages, the pitch of the tones is crucial. They determine what meaning words or syllables have. Thus, the tone belongs firmly to the word. Most of the languages spoken in Asia are tonal languages. For example, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. There are also various tonal languages in Africa. Many indigenous languages in America are tonal languages as well. Indo-European languages mostly contain only tonal elements. This applies to Swedish or Serbian, for example. The number of tone pitches is varied in individual languages. Four different tones are distinguishable in Chinese. With this, the syllable ma can have four meanings. They are mother, hemp, horse and to rant. Interestingly, tonal languages also impact our hearing. Studies on absolute hearing have shown this. Absolute hearing is the ability to identify heard tones accurately. Absolute hearing occurs very rarely in Europe and North America. Fewer than 1 in 10,000 people have it. It's different with native speakers of Chinese. Here, 9 times as many people have this special ability. We all had absolute hearing when we were infants. We used it to learn to speak correctly. Unfortunately, most people lose it later on. The pitch of tones is also important in music. This is especially true for cultures that speak a tonal language. They must adhere to the melody very precisely. Otherwise a beautiful love song comes out as an absurd song!

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