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Fang Shi
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This papei examines the mainstieam tonogenesis mouel anu pioposes alteinative
hypotheses on a numbei of possible souices of linguistic tone. The analysis anu hypotheses
uiaw on geneial linguistic knowleuge as well as peisonal expeiience anu intuition as a
native tonal language speakei, anu they aie intenueu to both pioviue competing
explanations anu iefine existing theoiies anu theii applications.

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!"#$% foi the puipose of this papei, is uefineu as pitch vaiiation ovei the uomain of a
moipheme oi a woiu that systematically uiffeientiates lexical oi giammatical meanings, as
exemplifieu by tonal minimal paiis. This uefinition intenus to iule out a majoi souice of
confusion: intonation, which is usually ovei the uomain of an entiie utteiance (i.e. often
multiple woius) anu uenotes meanings such as speakei attituues anu emotions. Bowevei,
as I will explain in one of my hypotheses, the actual uistinction can get bluiiy.

Examples will be uemonstiateu mostly in Chinese anu English, the two languages I'm most
familiai with. Some funuamental knowleuge of Nanuaiin Chinese is thus piesumeu. Foi
convenience, pionunciation of Chinese chaiacteis will be tiansciibeu in pinyin, with tones
maikeu in coiiesponuing numeials (1-4 foi the foui tones in Nouein Stanuaiu Chinese, anu
u foi the neutiallight tone, e.g. pin1yin1).

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Initiateu by A. u. Bauuiicouit's woik on vietnamese tones, latei iationalizeu by }. N.
Bombeit's phonetic expeiiments anu physiological explanations, anu fuithei suppoiteu by
similai obseivations in some tonal languages, the now most uominant tonogenesis
paiauigm (theoiy that tiies to explain the souice of linguistic tones) can be summaiizeu as

Bue to intiinsic aiticulatoiy constiaints, consonants may affect the pitch of vowels that
follow oi pieceue them. These consonants aie saiu to affect the moue of voicing of the
neighboiing vowels anu thus iaise oi lowei theii pitch. Aftei these consonants meige oi
uisappeai thiough phonological changes, theii effects on the vowel pitch iemain as the
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contiastive featuie anu aie peiceiveu as tones. In paiticulai, in the case of pievocalic
plosives, voicing loweis the pitch of vowels that immeuiately follow. This, by vaiious
accounts, is uesciibeu as the most wiuely attesteu souice of tonogenesis, anu accounts foi a
high vs. low tonal uistinction in many languages. In auuition, pievocalic anu postvocalic
influences may combine to piouuce moie complex tonal systems.

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Regaiuing the oiigin of tone in language, the two most citeu souices aie Bouuiicouit's "Be
l'oiigine ues tons en vietnamien" (19S4) anu Bombeit's "Consonant Types, vowel Quality,
anu Tone" (1978). I unfoitunately uo not know Fiench well enough to ieau Bouuiicouit's
oiiginal woik, but I will insteau point out a few things I noticeu in Bombeit's papei that
concein the expeiimental basis of the geneial mouel.

Both befoie anu aftei ieauing Bombeit's papei, I peifoimeu expeiiments on a native
Ameiican English speakei anu myself (pioficient English speakei anu linguistically tiaineu),
testing out the effect of pievocalic voicing on vowel pitch. Foi no obvious ieasons, iesults
baseu on my own speech showeu no significant coiielation but only minoi fiee vaiiations of
the pitch, but a sample fiom the native English speakei favois Bouuiicout anu Bombeit's
iuea anu shows at the vowel onset a uepiessing effect of less than 1u Bz on a 1Su-1Su Bz
funuamental fiequency iange. The effect is well below 1u% of the speakei's noimal pitch
level (peicentage is useu heie insteau of absolute value since it seems that the highei the
pitch value, the moie it can potentially get peituibeu), consistent with the thiee test iesults
by Bouse anu Faiibanks (19SS), Lehiste anu Peteison (1961), anu Nohi (1968) as quoteu
by Bombeit (79). Bombeit's expeiiments, on the othei hanu, all showeu quite uiamatic
effects on vowel pitch, in most cases moie than 1u%, sometimes to as much as ovei 2u% of
the speakeis aveiage pitch value. The huge uiffeience on almost iuentical expeiiments
appeaieu to me as veiy ouu, anu some subtle uetail in Bombeit's giaphs of his expeiiment
iesults make it even moie uubious whethei his expeiiments coulu be biaseu.

Suppose a speakei pionounces two syllables with the same pitch, anu suppose the uiffeient
consonantal onsets (oi couas) of these syllables have opposite effects on the pitch of the
iuentical vowel nucleus, we woulu expect, on a giaph mapping the vowel pitches ovei vowel
onset time (oi time till closuie, as with the case of uiffeient couas), two cuives stait (oi enu,
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as with couas) at uiffeient pitches uue to the inveise effects of the two consonants, anu as
the cuives extenu away fiom the onsetclosuie, they woulu uiaw closei to each othei anu
iueally meige into the pitch level noimal of that vowel to the speakei (suppose the vowels
last long enough anu extenu ovei the time iange of the consonants' influence). In Bombeit's
expeiiments, this expectation is not meiely met, but fai exceeueu; the two cuives actually
cioss ovei (paiticulaily visible in his SS fiom Figuie 2 foi Expeiiment I anu S1 fiom Figuie
7 foi Expeiiment v). The unexpecteu ciossovei appeaieu to me as eithei a sign of
incautious contiivance of the giaphs oi an inuication of biases that might have existeu in
Bombeit's expeiiments.

A possible cause of bias which may leau to the exaggeiateu pitch uiffeience anu the
ciossovei coulu have been inuuceu by Bombeit's piompts given to the test subjects. Though
Bombeit uiu aiiange the test woius in ianuom oiuei (anu thus iule out the possible bias
uue to a conventional intonation pattein), he gives no unambiguous specification of
whethei the piompt was given in text oi speech. If given in speech, especially by the authoi
oi someone with the belief on effects of the consonants, he coulu eithei intentionally oi
subconsciously pionounce the syllable with a pitch height that ieflects that belief anu
theiefoie hint at the test subject to iepeat with the same pitch. A paiticulaily likely hint to
have causeu the above-mentioneu ciossovei is a low iising pitch contoui on one (set of)
syllable(s) anu a high falling contoui on the othei. This psychological piocess, iionically, can
be veiy well explaineu by Bombeit himself, using the exact woius he useu in a veiy similai
papei to justify how minoi pitch peituibations causeu by consonants can inuuce tones:

"Since the listenei uoes not have inuepenuent access to the minu of the speakei, anu
thus may be unable to ueteimine what paits of the ieceiveu signal weie intenueu anu
what weie not, he may intentionally iepiouuce anu piobably exaggeiate these
uistoitions when he iepeats the same utteiances." (Bombeit et al. 1979:S7)

Also woithy of mentioning, Bombeit's Expeiiment vI (94-9S) was uesigneu to ueteimine
whethei small changes of Fu (which iepiesent consonantal effects on vowel pitch) aie
peiceptibly significant foi listeneis to notice. The uesign of this expeiiment itself appeais
legitimate, but the outcome is appaiently lacking, anu his inteipietations anu conclusion
unjustifiable. No specific uata iesulteu fiom the expeiiment was given at all, anu while at
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least some kinu of coiielation is expecteu to be establisheu, the only outcome Bombeit
botheieu to mention is a vague uesciiption saying that the set of iising contouis anu the set
of falling contouis aie statistically significantly uiffeient to listeneis' peiception. The way
Bombeit inteipiets an impoitant vaiiable At (the uuiation of the pitch change) in the iesult
ienueis his conclusion even moie questionable. Logically speaking, suppose the magnituue
of funuamental fiequency change (AF in Bombeit's expeiiment) is helu constant, the
shoitei the At, the shaipei the pitch change, anu the moie likely it is peiceiveu by listeneis.
Inteiestingly, Bombeit states that foi a ceitain At value anu all values gieatei than it, the
peiceiveu uiffeience was significant. This yielus a countei-intuitive implication that in
Bombeit's expeiiment, the shaipei the pitch changes, somehow the woise they weie
peiceiveu. 0nless these uoubts can be cleaieu, Bombeit's expeiiments cannot sufficiently
suppoit that the consonantal influences exist anu can be peiceiveu, even in iueal lab

Some physical iestiictions of Bombeit's expeiiments may also impaii theii cieuibility. The
haiuwaie pitch extiaction methou useu in his expeiiments foi measuiing funuamental
fiequency is now fai out-uateu, anu Bombeit even noteu himself how most Fu extiactois of
the time peifoimeu pooily anu causeu uifficulty foi obtaining accuiate measuiements (88).
Anothei obvious limitation is the shoitage of test subjects. Bombeit mostly hau S-4
speakeis' speech analyzeu in each expeiiment, anu in some of these cases, only a single
speakei pei sex pei language. This may also be uue to the painstaking effoit the pitch
measuiing methous of the time took, but the low sample size yielus no convincibility
beyonu that suitable only foi pieliminaiy speculations.

With the pioblems mentioneu above, I'u encouiage anyone inteiesteu in this subject,
especially anyone who intenus to cite Bombeit oi any woik that uoes so, to iepeat the
expeiiments anu check on the iesults, which can now be quite conveniently obtaineu
thiough spectiogiam analysis of uigital iecoiuings using computei softwaies such as Piaat.

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Above I've useu Bombeit (1978) as a populai example of phonetic suppoit foi the
consonantal influence tonogenesis mouel (abbieviateu CITuN foi convenience) to iuentify
some specific weaknesses in the expeiimental founuation of mouel. Abiamson (2uu4) also
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offeis a concise summaiy of the uevelopment of CITuN anu a numbei of iepiesentative
publications, also pointing out ceitain uisputes within CITuN anu uisciepancies among
ielateu phonetic expeiiments. The CITuN, though alieauy wiuely accepteu, lacks not only
uefinitive expeiimental suppoit, but also explanatoiy powei in some moie geneial aspects,
which I'll focus on next.

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Without the neeu of iefeiiing to specific uata, anyone who speaks a tonal language oi at
least familiai with one can tell how insignificant the supposeu vowel pitch uiffeience causeu
by consonants is (tiivial inueeu, to my eais native to a tonal language, which aie alieauy
extia sensitive to pitch uiffeiences), compaieu to the cleai pitch uistinctions of ieal
language tones. Not to mention theie is yet a fiim answei to whethei the minoi consonantal
effects aie stiong enough to be peiceiveu in ieal language enviionments, as opposeu to in
iueal lab conuitions wheie human can technically uisciiminate pitch uiffeience as small as
+- 1 Bz in a 8u-16u Bz iange (Lavei: 4S1).

Even if we stanu back foi a moment anu giant the possibility that the pioposeu pitch
peituibations causeu by consonants may by peiceptually significant enough to inuuce tones,
a paiauox woulu immeuiately aiise. While asseiting the featuies of voicing anu moue of
phonation can cause tones, why woulu the othei souices of pitch peituibation, among
which the most notable is inheient vowel pitch, be oveilookeu entiiely by CITuN.

It's been well obseiveu that theie is a "systematic coiielation between aveiage pitch of
vowels anu vowel height . the highei the vowel, the highei the pitch", anu the pitch
uiffeience can be "as much as 2S Bz" (Lavei: 4S4). The measuieu inteinal Fu of vowels can
uiffei significantly while peiceptually they aie spoken with a consistent pitch level,
inuicating that natuial vowel pitch uiffeience uue to physiological constiaints is likely to be
psychologically noimalizeu foi speakeis' peiception anu thus not peiceiveu as
uiffeientiating cues. While it's puzzling enough that CITuN bases its piemise on the exact
opposite aigument, it even goes as fai as asseiting the pitch uiffeiences causeu by
consonants can be peiceiveu to inuuce tones but those inheient to vowels cannot. Chen
(2uuu) expiesses the same uoubt on Bombeit's attituue:
Fang Shi
"|Sjuipiisingly, uespite the well-known intiinsic pitch vaiiations associateu with
vowel height, tone split along the highlow vowel uistinction is so iaie that Bombeit
et al. (1979:S2) state flatly: "It woulu seem that the inteiaction between tones anu
vowel height woiks in only one uiiection: tone can affect vowel height, but not vice-
veisa" (11).
If the pitch peituibative effect of aujacent consonants on vowels is somehow inueeu
significant enough to inuuce tones thiough meigeis oi lost of consonants, then the inheient
pitch of vowels coulu also have uone so thiough the meiging of vowels. Foi example, a veiy
common meigei of aujacent vowels |oj anu |uj is obseiveu in languages. 0sing uata fiom
Lavei (4S4), if an |uj of inheient pitch 182 Bz meiges with an |oj of 17u Bz, the most
significant linguistic cue left to uistinguish the pieviously minimal paiis with a |ouj
uistinction woulu be the 12 Bz pitch uiffeience. This pitch uiffeience is as laige as the
consonantal peituibations attesteu by most expeiiments in favoi of a CITuN, not to
mention vowels with even gieatei inteinal pitch uiffeience coulu meige. Appaiently, a goou
explanation is iequiieu by CITuN to cleai why the same phonological piocess nevei
happens to a highly compaiable, if not moie salient, set of linguistic cues.

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Language change, howevei iapiu, as a mattei of social behavioi, takes place giauually, anu
uiffeient cultuial gioups often exemplify a iange of uiffeient stages in uevelopment,
togethei offeiing us a whole pictuie of a continuous changing piocess. Consiuei a common
change in language that a case-maiking language shifts towaius one that employs woiu
oiuei to uesignate semantic ioles such as subject anu object. What we can obseive is that
some languages use case-maiking extensively anu allow fiee woiu oiuei, anu some aie
case-fiee anu iequiie fixeu woiu oiueis, but also a significant peicentage of languages use
both stiategies at the same time, even though one woulu totally suffice. 0ne linguistic
piinciple we may abstiact fiom this pictuie is that language is not peifectly logic-uiiven: not
all ieuunuancy in language is eliminateu, anu even if a ieuunuant featuie is to be eliminateu,
the change may take a long peiiou in histoiy to complete, anu in tuin contiibutes to the
abunuance of typologically uiveise languages. The same piinciple can be seen in languages
that iequiie both conjugation on the veib anu coiiesponuing subject pionouns, anu it's
even moie common in the iealm of phonetics anu phonology. Fiom a segmental peispective,
aujacent phonetic segments often caiiy featuies that aie not oiiginally of theii own but
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assimilateu fiom each othei, anu both segments woulu ietain anu thus shaie the same set of

The same piinciple, if applieu to the phonological piocess essential to CITuN, in which
tones emeige out of the meigei of oiiginally sepaiate phonemes, shoulu leave us with an
abunuance of languages in the inteimeuiate stage of change, in which tones coexist with the
hypothesizeu consonant contiasts. CITuN, howevei, often skips this stage anu assumes the
change to complete instantly, leaving no tiace behinu. Aiguments foi CITuN haiuly evei
back themselves up with live examples of language that has uevelopeu tone but has yet to
iiu of the now ieuunuant consonantal contiast that inuuceu the tone. Insteau, most of them
iely exclusively on ieconstiuctions, anu thus subject theii valiuity to the quality of the
ieconstiuctions, anu moieovei, to the inheient vaiiability of the methou of ieconstiuction.

This ovei-ieliance sometimes can leau to seveie logical fallacy. Foi instance, it's now wiuely
helu that 0lu Chinese was atonal, anu that tones fiist emeigeu in Chinese as a iesult of to
postvocalic consonantal influences on vowel pitch. People since Bauuiicouit have
ieconstiucteu 0lu Chinese with couas such as |!j, |hj anu |sj to account foi the fiist iounu of
tonogenesis in Chinese, along the tiain of thoughts of CITuN (}acquet: 14-21). Theie is,
howevei, no eviuence whatsoevei to suppoit the histoiical existence of such couas in
Chinese othei than that CITuN uemanus so. Now when these unexamineu assumptions aie
taken foi gianteu, many theoiists even cite the ieconstiucteu 0lu Chinese couas as a
suppoit foi CITuN, which simply iesults in ciiculai logic.

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If voicing in pievocalic consonants natuially inuuces a lowei pitch in the vowel, why the
loss of voicing uistinction in some languages (e.g. Bawaiian) uiu not cause tones to emeige.
What aie the ciitical uiffeientiating factois. Auuitionally, CITuN liteiatuie seems to be
exclusively conceineu with tones ovei monosyllabic moiphemes. In ieality, many tonal
languages, especially those in Cential anu Southein Afiica, may have tonal patteins that
iange ovei multiple syllables: theie coulu be a high-low vs. low-high tonal alteination to
uiffeientiate meaning, as in the case of Bagaaie; oi as in Chizigula, theie coulu be a tone
that's placeu consistently on the penultimate syllable of a veib (Yip: 2). These kinus of tonal
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stiategy can haiuly be iesults of meigeis of contiasting consonants, oi else woulu ceitainly
iequiie hypei intiicate explanations to fit into CITuN.

A cuiious phenomenon I mentioneu in section 2 also begs foi extia inquiiy, anu ieseaich
may give iise to fiesh peispectives on cioss-language vaiiance in pitch peiception. If the
pitch uepiessing effect of voiceu plosives uoes exist anu inueeu iesults fiom aiticulatoiy
constiaints of the human vocal tiact (as CITuN theoiist iationalizeu), I, even as a native
speakei of a tonal language, shoulu foi no ieason be exempt fiom this physiological effect.
Yet, mini expeiiments I conuucteu on myself showeu no such effect at all, as if the mentality
of tonal language speakeis automatically piecluues it. Well-contiolleu expeiiments
involving a laigei numbei of speakeis of uiveise native languages woulu help veiify this. If
my hunch pioves positive that peituibations by consonants uo not apply to native tonal
language speakeis foi some ieason, among many possible implications, the tonal split (the
seconu iounu of tonogenesis) in the histoiy of Chinese anu vietnamese causeu by pievocalic
voicing uistinction as aigueu by CITuN woulu be uispioveu, since the causing mechanism
woulu bieak uown foi languages that aie alieauy tonal. If expeiiments show otheiwise, at
least the consonantal effects get to be claimeu a univeisal with moie ceitainty.

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Although CITuN pioviues some tempoiaiy ielief to the complexities of linguistic tone, as I
have pointeu out, it still lacks explanatoiy powei anu expeiimental suppoit anu theiefoie
has a long way to become a tiuly satisfactoiy theoiy. Anu next, I will piopose a few othei
possible souices of linguistic tone, some of which may paiallel oi complement those
suggesteu by CITuN.

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Yip (2uu2:1) estimates that 6u-7u peicent of languages aie tonal, !&$ ()*+,-./$
0#1213"4$.-) "5 6)#/7)/$ gives "well ovei half" (Ciystal: 174), anu in 896:'s sample of S27
woilu's languages, about 42% aie tonal anu it's noteu as an unueiiepiesentation. Though
the exact numbeis may vaiy, a consiueiably laige poition of human languages, eithei by the
numbei of languages oi the population of speakeis, aie actually tonal languages. This
infoimation appeaieu suipiising to me at fiist anu peihaps so to many otheis, most likely
uue to the pievalence of atonal Inuo-Euiopean languages on eaith. Even within the fielu of
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linguistics, tone tenus to ieceive only maiginal attention anu sometimes is simply ignoieu
(Yip:1). Also consiueiing the absence of native tonal language speakei input in the
theoiizing phase of CITuN, it's actually no wonuei how it came into being with an
unueilying mentality that, since tones uo not exist in the pieuominant Euiopean languages
anu uo not appeai intuitive to the theoiists, they must have not been theie in the fiist place
anu thus must be ueiivative of something moie typical (to those theoiists). The teim
"tonogenesis" itself, as coineu by }ames Natisoff, actually caiiies a similai implication that
linguistic tone is not something inheient to language, but iathei a iemaikable phenomenon
that occuiieu outsiue the noim.

A paiticulai class of uncommon consonants, clicks, is populaily thought to be a iemnant of
eaily human languages, since languages with click sounus clustei heavily in Afiica, wheie
eaily humans oiiginateu, anu that click sounus aie seen as iathei complicateu anu unlikely
to have evolveu fiom moie common sounus. Yet with tones, which aie also paiticulaily iich
in Afiica's aboiiginal languages, theoiists woulu iathei come up with intiicate explanations
to make them fit into a Euiocentiic paiauigm.

In teims of mechanism, the vaiiance of pitch easily qualifies as a ciucial component of eaily
human languages. While ieconstiucting eaily human languages is well beyonu the scope of
histoiical linguistics, we can neveitheless make infeiences fiom ielevant obseivations.
Evolution is a continuous piocess, anu the physiological anu psychological capacities that
enable the complex mouein human languages uiu not come into existence oveinight.
Language itself is also likely to have evolveu giauually fiom the piimitive use of sounus to
convey simple meanings. Bistinguishing featuies that maik the pioto-language sounus aie
impiobable to be manneis anu places oi moues of aiticulation, as these woulu iequiie
highly specializeu oigans anu ielateu neuial contiols, which weie appaiently not fully
uevelopeu at fiist. What appeais much moie piobable to be a coie contiollable vaiiable in
the piimitive language is pitch, as can be uemonstiateu by most animal communication
systems that ueploy the vocal-auuitoiy channel. Similai to animal "languages" (consiuei
that of biius, elephants, anu uolphins, foi example, in which pitch is cleaily the main
vaiiable), oui pioto-language coulu have consisteu of veiy limiteu segmental vaiiables -
possibly just an invaiiable sounu, anu useu piimaiily pitch combinations togethei with
ihythm to uiffeientiate meaning. Such a language is technically capable of expiessing
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complex meanings just like iegulai mouein spoken languages anu woulu have alloweu
fuithei uevelopment of language capacities uuiing the human evolution. The living
examples of whistleu languages can well uemonstiate this phonological stiategy in the
hypothesizeu pioto-human language. Whistleu languages can employ two possible
stiategies to communicate thiough whistling alone, the simplei anu moie common of which,
also being the moie ielevant stiategy heie, is by whistling the pitch contoui of the spoken
language alone, anu eviuently in tonal languages this can conuuct "effective communication
of quite extenueu linguistic messages" (Lavei: 481) anu "convey piecise uistinctions"
(Ciystal: 4u4).

Biological eviuence may also sheu light on oui speculation of the pioto-human language.
Thiough making plastei casts of the bony cavities within the fossil skulls of eaily human
anu compaiing this ieconstiucteu vocal tiact to that of mouein man, anthiopologists
infeiieu that "Neanueithal man (7u-SS,uuu BC) woulu have been able to uttei only a few
fiont consonant-like sounus anu centializeu vowel-like sounus, anu may have been unable
to make a contiast between nasal anu oial sounus" (Ciystal: 292). In auuition, this
ieconstiucteu vocal tiact is "iemaikably similai to that of a newboin baby" (Ciystal: 292).
Also consiueiing that the eaily humans woulu have limiteu psychological capacities of
language (likely to be compaiable to those of a baby), we may speculate that the pioto-
human language can be veiy similai to the "speech" of a newboin baby, which phonetically
consists of piimitive sounus ambiguous of aiticulatoiy constiaints anu phonologically
employs pitch as the majoi contiollable vaiiable. 0tto }espeisen maue a veiy similai
speculation iegaiuing the oiigin of language (1922: 416-417), anu he also noteu a geneial
tienu in language of "giauual uisappeaiance of tone oi pitch accent" (419):
"|Tjhis has been the case in Banish, wheieas Noiwegian anu Sweuish have kept the
olu tones; so also in Russian as compaieu with Seibo-Cioatian. In ... olu Inuian, uieek
anu Latin . pitch accent playeu a piominent pait. ... In mouein uieek anu in the
Romanic languages the tone element has been obscuieu, anu now 'stiess' is heaiu on
the syllable wheie the ancients noteu only a high oi a low tone" (419).
}espeisen not only infeiieu fiom this that tone playeu an impoitant pait in oui piimitive
languages, but also tiaceu fuithei back along the chain of thoughts anu positeu a singulai
souice - a foim of piimitive singing - foi both language anu music (4S1-4S7).

Fang Shi
Language may have oiiginateu as a siue piouuct of a piimitive "singing" of no meaningful
lyiics but puie emotional expiession. The moie emotional siue of it captuieu the moie
abstiact aspects of the singing anu latei biancheu off into what we now call "music"
(consiuei the similaiity between the emotional faculties of music anu that ietaineu in
language intonation). A utilitaiian siue of the piimitive singing also biancheu off anu staiteu
to associate pitch patteins with ceitain emotions anu meanings, anu this eventually evolveu
into language. As physiological anu psychological uevelopments in human evolution
enableu moie auvanceu aiticulatoiy uistinctions (e.g. consonants anu vowels) to be maue to
uiffeientiate meaning, this pioto-human language giauually ieuuceu the functional loau of
pitch vaiiance (which was giauually ieplaceu by incieasing options of consonant anu vowel
uistinctions) foi moie efficient couing. The mixeu use of pitch vaiiance anu othei phonetic
featuies eventually came into an equilibiium: in some languages, the functional loau of pitch
ieuuceu to the same level as that of consonants anu vowels, anu these languages aie now
iefeiieu to as tonal languages; on the othei enu of the spectium, the ieuuction went fuithei
anu leaves pitch with only the uomain of intonation, anu these languages aie consiueieu

If one finus this couise of uevelopment of human language plausible, tone as a iemnant of
piimitive language ought not be oveiseen. The aiiogant piesumption that cuiient tonal
languages must have uevelopeu fiom a toneless state shoulu be seiiously questioneu. In
paiticulai, the kinus of tonal stiategies that uon't fit into CITuN well (c.f. S.S) aie highly
likely to have always been in the language since the veiy beginning.

RJC ; @#."#,.'"#
All languages, whethei tonal oi not, have intonation. In a highly tonal language like
Nanuaiin Chinese, intonation is usually supeiimposeu on lexical tones, but occasionally
they may inteifeie with each othei. Nany languages incluuing Chinese anu English shaie
common intonational schemes such as the inquisitive up-stepping pitch contoui anu the
confiimativeueclaiative uown-uiifting pitch contoui. These patteins usually opeiate ovei
multiple syllables in a stiing of utteiance, but if the utteiance itself is shoit, especially when
it's just a single syllable, the uomain of intonation woulu coinciue that of lexical tone. When
this happens in Chinese, the up-stepping intonation iesembles the iising2nu tone, anu the
uown-stepping intonation iesembles the falling4th tone. 0nuei this piinciple, the
Fang Shi
intonation in ceitain chaiacteis anu phiases that aie commonly associateu with questions
oi othei emotions might have been peiceiveu as pait of the lexical items anu then
inteinalizeu as tone.

Chinese question woiuspaiticles such as he2 "what." (liteiaiy), yi2 anu sha2
"whathuh." (colloquial), shen2meu "what." (stanuaiu), shei2shui2 "who.", anu
aichaic question maikeis ye2 anu yu2 all caiiy the 2
(iising) tone. Thus theii
intiinsic tone often coinciues with the up-stepping intonational pitch contoui in the
inquisitive utteiance that they aie in (the shoitei the whole utteiance the moie obvious).
Anothei veiy inteiesting example is a highly heteiophonic chaiactei in Chinese: , an
exclamation woiu often useu on its own as a complete expiession. Nany uictionaiies now
list the following 4 pionunciations anu theii iespective meanings (along with a few moie
that aie unielateu to the uiscussion heie anu thus not listeu):
- ei1 exclamation, to call attention
- ei2 exclamation, to expiess suipiise
- eiS exclamation, to expiess uisuainuisagieement
- ei4 exclamation, affiimation
The pionunciation is invaiiable except foi the tone, anu in each tone, the meaning matches
the emotion that's usually expiesseu by the similai intonational contoui.

Besiues the piofounu connection between tone anu intonation ueeply iooteu in the histoiy
of language (c.f. 4.1), moie iecent inteiaction of the two may also have taken place. Suppose
that Chinese useu to be atonal at some point as CITuN piesumes, chaiacteis anu phiases as
exemplifieu in this section coulu have uevelopeu tones fiist, anu then, by analogy, they
coulu have assigneu theii tones to chaiacteis anu phiases of iuentical oi similai syllable
stiuctuies (e.g. those with the same pievocalic oianu postvocalic consonants). 0theiwise,
if consiueiing the examples above as meiely isolateu cases, intonation in alieauy tonal
languages can still seive as a limiteu but neveitheless viable souice of tone.

RJH ; 2.*%&&
0nstiesseu syllables at the initial position of polysyllabic English woius (e.g. "po-" in
"position") have a pitch contoui that impiessionistically simulates that of a fall-iising tone
Fang Shi
(i.e. S
tone) in Nanuaiin Chinese. The iationalization may be that the unstiesseu thus low-
pitch syllable fiist weakens ovei its uuiation, anu then piepaies to tiansition into the next
stiesseu thus high-pitch syllable, altogethei geneiating a low-lowei-high pitch contoui.
Suppose beyonu all wiitten iecoius, Chinese has once hau polysyllabic woius in which the
fiist syllable was unstiesseu (in the same stiess paiauigm as that of English), anu latei
phonological ieuuction iesulteu in the loss of eveiything aftei this fiist unstiesseu syllable,
the oiiginal pitch contoui ovei multiple syllables coulu have been conuenseu on the
iemaining syllable anu pieseiveu as a meaningful unit, giving iise to what's now a falling-
iisingSiu tone.

Though being a tonal language, Chinese also has stiess patteins; most notably, ceitain
giammatical paiticles anu some chaiacteis in specific lexical contexts aie unstiesseu
(unmaikeu foi tone, oi conventionally saiu to be maikeu with a "light tone" neutial tone),
e.g. woSueu "my", uong1xiu "stuff", haoSueuuuo1 "way bettei".
Inteiestingly, the "tonotactics" of Chinese seems to piecluue the occuiience of any
unstiesseu syllable (neutial tone) at the initial position of any woius (not even in
tiansliteiation of foieign woius with an unstiesseu initial syllable), iesulting in a
complementaiy uistiibution between unstiesseu u-tone chaiacteis anu the hypothesizeu
stiess-inuuceu thiiu tone chaiacteis at woiu-initial positions. Anothei piece of tonotactics
in Nanuaiin Chinese that may ielate to this hypothesis is the systematic avoiuance of
consecutive falling-iisingSiu tones. While puiely phonetically speaking, any two tones can
be pionounceu siue to siue without a pioblem, when two Siu tone chaiacteis occui next to
each othei in an utteiance, one of them must altei its tonal iealization. Foi example:
niS "you" + haoS "goou (auj.)" ! niChaoS "gieeting";
niS "goou (auj.)" + niS "goou (auj.)" ! haoShao? "well (auv.)".
This may be an implicit ieflection of the absence of two stiesseu syllables within a woiu
befoie the hypothesizeu phonological ieuuction (this pattein exists in English woius, which
can only have one piimaiy stiess pei phonological woiu).

Besiues the phonetic anu phonological connections between ceitain tones anu stiess
patteins, they also shaie some moiphological functions. In English, many polysyllabic
woius have an invaiiable wiitten foim that can be pionounceu in two uistinct stiesses to
Fang Shi
uenote ielateu meanings of uiffeient woiu categoiies. Foi example (stiesseu syllable
maikeu in bolu):
'*%coiu' Noun - 'ie7"*>' veib; '3*%sent' Aujective - 'pie&%#.' veib.
This implicit phonomoiphological knowleuge sometimes extenus by analogy to woius
without a stiess alteination anu piouuce hypeicoiiections like the following:
'ue)%#>' veib ! '
>%fense' Noun, which is listeu in most uictionaiies with only one possible
stiess: 'ue)%#&%'; 'ue),A<.' veib ! '
>%fault' Noun.

In Chinese, tonal alteination in many "heteiotonic" chaiacteis may play the exact same iole
as stiess alteination in English, e.g. (only select pionunciations anu coiiesponuing
meanings ielevant to the uiscussion heie aie listeu):
haoS "goou (auj.) - hao4 "to like"; chuS "locate" - chu4 "location";
cha1 "uiffeience" - cha4 "uiffei by"; guan1 "heauweai" - guan4 "to ciown".
(Note that fa1 - fa4 anu zhi1 - zhiS woulu not be goou examples foi the point maue
heie, foi the uiffeient tones iesulteu fiom the meige of two oiiginally uistinct chaiacteis
befoie the Simplification.)
This phono-moiphological pattein is supposeu to be a lot moie piouuctive in eailiei spoken
foims of Chinese. Chaiacteis that aie no longei useu as veibs in Nouein Spoken Chinese,
when uenoting actions in Classical Chinese anu othei liteiaiy contexts, aie pionounceu with
a falling4th tone:
wang2 "kingloiu" ! wang4 "to iule"; yi1 "clothes" ! yi4 "to put cloth on".
(The basis of this is uncleai anu nevei explaineu, but the alteination pattein has been
passeu on as an oial tiauition in Classical Chinese instiuctions.)

In auuition to the obseivations we can make about Nouein Chinese, histoiical woik also
favois the likelihoou of a phonological ieuuction in eaily Chinese, which is essential to the
hypothesis aigueu heie. "As eaily as 1861, R. Lepsius, fiom a compaiison of Chinese anu
Tibetan, hau ueiiveu the conviction that 'the monosyllabic chaiactei of Chinese is not
oiiginal, but is a lapse fiom an eailiei polysyllabic stiuctuie'" (}espeisen: S7u). By
compaiing ieconstiuctions of 0lu Chinese anu Pioto-Austionesian, L. Sagait founu a
systematic coiielation between the two anu also aigues that Chinese went thiough a
monosyllabicization piocess fiom theii polysyllabic common ancestoi (though Sagait tiies
Fang Shi
to fit the analysis into CITuN anu uoes not aigue foi any connection between the
monosyllabicization anu tones in Chinese).

Anu last, uiffeient stiess patteins anu theii inteipietations may account foi the uiffeiences
in tonal iealizations among the Chinese languagesuialects. To illustiate the point, suppose
that an imaginaiy atonal Bialect A of pioto-Chinese boiioweu the woiu "+,&sage" fiom
Fiench anu thus pionounce it with a piimaiy stiess on the fiist syllable anu a seconuaiy
stiess on the seconu syllable (in teims of English stiess), anu that anothei imaginaiy atonal
Bialect B of pioto-Chinese boiioweu the same woiu "mas&,$%" thiough English anu thus
pionounce it with an English accent, i.e. with an unstiesseu fiist syllable anu a stiesseu
seconu syllable. Shoulu the phonological ieuuction as hypothesizeu take place, the woiu in
both uialects woulu be left with the same syllable |maj but uiffeient tones ieflecting the
oiiginal pitch contouis uue to the uiffeient stiess patteins. Specifically, Bialect A may enu
up having a high level tone (if only the contoui of the fiist syllable is ietaineu) oi a high
falling (if the tiansitioning into the next syllable is also incluueu), so the piouuct is
somewhat like a mouein Chinese ma1 oi ma4; similaily, the piouuct in Bialect B coulu
have a low pitch oi falling-iising contoui like that of mS. Biffeient systematic
segmentations anu inteipietations of stiess contouis in the piouuction of tones may give
iise to similai tonal systems unuei the same hypothetic mouel to account foi some cioss-
language oi uialectal vaiiations.

V ; 0"#7<A&'"#
CITuN stoou out as the most uominant tonogenesis paiauigm paitly uue to the lack of othei
satisfactoiy explanations (}acquet: 2u), anu as I have pointeu out, it still lacks expeiimental
suppoit (2.1) as well as explanatoiy powei (S.1-S.S). I have in tuin suggesteu othei possible
souices of linguistic tone, incluuing the tonal uefault view (4.1), intonation (4.2), anu stiess
(4.S). These aie only pieliminaiy speculations on the subject anu uefinitely iequiie fuithei
examinations, but we shoulu ceitainly avoiu hasty conclusions. While seaiching foi
linguistic patteins anu univeisals aie uefinitely necessaiy foi a bettei unueistanuing of
language, iesoiting to only one mouel to account foi the wiue vaiiety of tonal systems in
woilu's languages may eventually piove unsuccessful. If $;$,2 <",. &)= ->= "<# &-=>",2, then
eveiy cuiient tonal system, too, may also have uevelopeu uiffeiently, anu so may each tone.

Fang Shi
W ; N%)%*%#7%&
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@&"#"3"/2 >" A".$,# :4$$1& @,"1$==-#/B ?$=>=1&,-5> ", @,"5$==", 87 C"#/D-E= FG>&
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