Akorbi Explains Tonal Languages

Person speakingAkorbi Lessons: What are Tonal Languages?

All languages have their own complexities that can be difficult for second-language speakers. English speakers, for instance, will have a tough time understanding the nuances of tonal languages. In English, tone can help convey sarcasm, excitement, questioning, and much more. While tone plays an important role in English speech, it doesn’t make English a tonal language. What constitutes a tonal language? Today in the Akorbi blog, we’ll explain what a tonal language is.

What is a Tonal Language?

A tonal language is defined as a language where different words with different tonal inflections will convey different meanings. For example, a single word could be said with four different tones, and each of those tones will change the meaning of the word.

You may have also heard of pitch accents, which are different than tonal languages. Japanese, Swedish, and Norwegian are examples of languages that use pitch accents. This is when stressing a different syllable can change the meaning of a word. Pitch is not the same as tone.

Examples of Tonal Languages

Tonal languages are common for many Asian languages. Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai are just a few examples of tonal languages. These languages are typically perceived to be some of the most difficult languages to learn.

The Difference of Tonal Language

For instance, the vocabulary and grammar for these languages tends to be much simpler than many other languages. While it’s true that a certain word in Chinese can have eight different tones, you also have learned eight new words once you get the tones down.

These languages also tend to not have verb tenses, gender assignments, or verb conjugation. As complex as it might sound, if you’ve ever wanted to learn a tonal language, give it a shot before assuming it’s too difficult! They’re beautiful languages to learn and can be very useful.

Translation and Interpretation Services with Akorbi

Not everyone has the time to learn a new language, especially if it’s dramatically different than their first language. Akorbi has your solution. We provide various translation and interpretation services for tonal languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, and many more.

In fact, we offer our professional services for over 150 languages. Akorbi staffs a team of highly qualified experts, so you know you’re in good hands when you choose us for translation or interpretation services.  Contact Akorbi today for more information about our services or to set up a free consultation.