En réponse à Paul Edson <[log in to unmask]>:

> The question, part 1: Are there really more tone languages
> than non-tone languages? It's always seemed to me in my
> casual browsing through the Fields of Lex that tone
> languages seemed to be an exception, but the browsing has
> been casual at best...

Well, if among tone languages, as the quote suggests, you include pitch-
accented languages (which can be considered at the edge between tone and stress
languages), then I agree completely with the quote! Tone languages needn't be
only contour tone languages like the various Chinese dialects. You also have
register tone languages like many African tongues. And finally, as I said, you
may include pitch-accented languages like Japanese. When you make the count,
I'm pretty sure then that they outweigh stress languages by much! :))

> The question, part 2: If so, is the tonal::non-tonal ratio
> similar in known ConLangs? I'd think not, again based on
> cursory observation.

Indeed, tone is such a tricky thing for people who don't use it in their native
language that most conlangers don't use it. But I think it's more due to the
fact that the net is still more accessible to Western countries and people than
anything else.

> The question, part 3: How many here have used tone for their
> languages, and in what ways?

AFAIK, only two of my languages use tone.

Notya is pitch-accented, with a certain syllable being the peak of pitch, and
the syllables around going down in pitch the further they get from this pitch.
In this language, the pitch accent is predictable: it always happens at the
last syllable of the root.

Itakian has a system which can be considered at the limit between contour tone
and register tone. In this language, each syllable has a tone, and this tone
can be high, low, rising or falling. The tone is partly grammatical (it serves
to mark the trigger, and also to mark interrogative words), partly semantic.
Moreover, a general rule says that the tone line must stay unbroken between two
pauses. So a tone ending high can only be followed by a tone beginning high. As
a result, when two words get near each other, tone sandhis can happen.


Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.