79: Tone and Intonation? Tone and Intonation!
Spoken languages can change the pitch or melody of words to convey several different kinds of information. When the pitch affects the meaning of the whole phrase, such as rising to indicate a question in English, linguists call it intonation. When the pitch affects the meaning of an individual word, such as the difference between mother (high mā) and horse (low rising mǎ) in Mandarin, linguists call it tone.
In this episode, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne get enthusiastic about tone, intonation, and the combination of the two. We talk about various meanings of intonation, such as question, list, floor-holding, emphasis, enthusiasm, and sarcasm, and how different languages use different shapes of intonation contours for functions like these. We also talk about things languages do with tones, from changing meanings of individual words to indicating grammatical information like negation. Finally, we talk about the many, many options for writing tone and intonation (from highly technical proposals to fun internet creations), how tone interacts with lyrics/melody in songs, and how “high” versus “low” tone is actually a culturally-specific metaphor -- could we start calling tones “thin” and “thick” or “big” and “small” instead?
Read the transcript here: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/715162109812637696/transcript-episode-79-tone-and-intonation-tone
In this month’s bonus episode, originally recorded as a liveshow on the Lingthusiasm patron Discord server, your host Gretchen gets enthusiastic about how languages do gender with special guest Dr. Kirby Conrod. We answer your questions about lots of things related to language and gender, including: gender-neutral versions of sir/ma'am and dude/bro, why linguistic gender even exists, how people are doing gender-neutral and nonbinary things across related languages, and how neopronouns are often made by recycling bits from a language's canonical pronouns.
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For links to things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/715161716945813504/episode-79-tone-and-intonation-tone-and