Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Thought I've Never Thought Before

It began with this question:

Since Chinese is a tonal language and some tones pitch downwards, what happens if that downwards word is at the end of a question? I assume the voice can’t go up. Yes?

Now reading those sentences above as an English speaker, I am certain the voice in your head went up on the words “question” and “yes.” Which led me to this startling thought that I have never thought before:

Is the rise in the voice at the end of a question a universal phenomena found in all languages? If not, which ones don’t use it? And why not? Anyone know?

And then my sub-thought was the logic of the rise, like a musical note far away from the home tone that is unresolved and implies there is more to come. And then the answer like the resolution to the melodic phrase that announces, “We’re done here.”

Still out of Google reach, I can’t look it up. But it was interesting enough just to come up with the question. Don’t you think so? (rising inflection here).

(Feb. 13) 

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