The four tones in Chinese
People who never spoke a tonal language had hard time to understand what the tone is. In fact, English does involve tones, but it is more subtle than Chinese. In English, there is accent, that put emphasize on certain part of a word. Tone is somehow similiar to accent, but more emphasize on how the vowel is pronounced. In chinese there are four different tones, the flat tone is the easiest to understand, basically like in singing, you keep the tone unchanged. The second tone is changing to higher pitch, as in the end of an English question sentence such as in the end of "Do you speak English?". The third tone which is called changing tone is a little hard to understand, I will explain it at thelast. The forth tone is downward tone, it happens in English when you put an accent on the vowel. Like when when you want to emphasize something. Now back to the third tone, a lot of people think there is no corresponding tone in English for the third tone, actually I think it does exist. When you put accent on one syllable, it actually changes the tone before that accent. For example, when you say a girl's name Nicole, that accent is at the second syllable, "cole", while as you accent the "cole" and in effect used chinese forth tone on it, you actually did something more in English, you changed the vowel before it to the third tone. The sound "Ni" in "Ni'cole" is third tone.
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