Punjabi: Tones

MarX

Banned
Indonesian, Indonesia
Hello!

I'e got some other questions concerning Panjabi:

How many tones does Panjabi have?
How important are they? Will you be misunderstood if you use wrong tones, or if you don't use them at all?
Is Panjabi the only language in South Asia which has tones?

Thank you!

Grüsse,


MarK
 
  • panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    Hello there Marx,

    I'll do my best to answer your question. I still consider myself a learner in this field but I know where the tones go intrinsically.

    Panjabi has 3 tones: a high, a low, and a level. The low tone is produced after four different letters: gha (aspirated velar), jha (aspirated palatal), Dha (aspirated retroflex), dha (aspirated dental), and bha (aspirated labial). These letters carry a kind of falling tone with them. It is, in my opinion, the most recognizable tone to learners.
    The level tone is, to my best knowledge, just the regular tone of speech. I don't think there is anything outstandingly different about about.
    The low high tone arises from a combination of the letter "ha" and a vowel. It sounds like a rising tone.

    The tones are very important, as there are some words which can be confused if you don't use them. But as with every language, there are dialects, and some dialects do not tonalize everything the same. For example, in the Pakistani dialect Multani, the letters "bha" and "dha" do not carry a low tone.

    In my opinion, you can make yourself understood without the tones, but you may have some difficulty. People may think you are speaking Hindi and switch, or they may try and correct you (which leads to a hilarious game of confusion between the learner and the native, where the learner doesn't hear the difference between tone and no tone). To the best of my knowledge, Panjabi is the only South Asian language that has tones.

    Thanks for your question! I certainly wish there was more interest in this language!
     

    linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    Woah woah, what's all this? Panjabi has "tones"?? What kind of tones are we talking about?

    Panjabigator, you say "Panjabi is the only language that has tones"? Have you heard of Mandarin/Cantonese Chinese, Viatnamese and the other Sino-Tibetan languages?

    I'm slightly confused :p. I think I just want to know what we mean here when we say "tones".
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Punjabi may be the only Indo-European tonal language in South Asia, but some non-Indo-European tonal languages are spoken - how many I have no idea.
     

    MarX

    Banned
    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Punjabi may be the only Indo-European tonal language in South Asia, but some non-Indo-European tonal languages are spoken - how many I have no idea.
    Swedish and Norwegian have tones (although not using them wouldn't cause any misunderstanding in most cases).
    I also read that Bosniak has tones.
    They are all Indo-European languages.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Most (but not all) linguists like to distinguish between pitch accent languages and tonal languages.

    In a pitch accent language pitch is used in the same way as stress in English. Swedish, Norwegian and some of the languages spoken in the former Yugoslavia are pitch accent languages.

    In other cases where significant tonality is used at the word level the language is described as tonal. Punjabi is a tonal language.

    I believe that Sikkimese is a tonal language.
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    Routledge's Mangat Rai Bharwaj: Colloquial Panjabi states unhesitatingly that
    Panjabi is a tone language like Swedish, Norwegian and Chinese.
    but then on the same page admits that Central ("Which this course aims to teach you") used to pronounce these letters (gh, jh, .r, dh, bh, h ) with a breathy voice, and that Western Panjabi dialects, ("which are respectable members of the Panjabi language family"), use the distinction aspirated/non-aspirated instead of tones.

    The book exemplifies the problem by two sets of words (where I use .r for ੜ): IPA ka.ri: 'link', kà.ri: klock, ká.ri: 'curry', and ko.ra: 'whip, kò.ra: 'horse' and kò.ra: 'leper' with ` for a low tone and ´ for a high tone.

    I have yet to decide when and where to really learn which variety. So far, a slightly above no reading comprehension works for me.
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    Dogri is considered by many speakers to be a dialect of Panjabi. I can understand it, but not terribly well.

    Siraiki and Hindko (also both considered by some to be Panjabi dialects) are also tonal.
     

    apūrwasya_bhāṣāḥ

    Banned
    American English & Standard Bengali
    I meant to say Panajbi is the only language out of the South Asian ones that has tones:p
    Since I was an infant when this thread began, I’ll just say it now: Chittagonian, a far eastern dialect of Bengali, also uses tones, as well as the very closely related Rohingya language spoken in Burma (which are both Indo-European)
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    Since I was an infant when this thread began, I’ll just say it now: Chittagonian, a far eastern dialect of Bengali, also uses tones, as well as the very closely related Rohingya language spoken in Burma (which are both Indo-European)
    I shouldn't be held accountable for things I said 12 years ago. Isn't that a politician would say, anyway? :)

    I think that many other languages in the subcontinent would count: the Pahari languages, Dogri, Hindko, Siraiki. Which I'm sure some Punjabi chauvinist (Punjabivist? Punjabutva? Panjabiyat parast?) would fold into their umbrella.

    Thanks for this! And thanks for making me feel old! 😅
     

    apūrwasya_bhāṣāḥ

    Banned
    American English & Standard Bengali
    I shouldn't be held accountable for things I said 12 years ago. Isn't that a politician would say, anyway? :)

    I think that many other languages in the subcontinent would count: the Pahari languages, Dogri, Hindko, Siraiki. Which I'm sure some Punjabi chauvinist (Punjabivist? Punjabutva? Panjabiyat parast?) would fold into their umbrella.

    Thanks for this! And thanks for making me feel old! 😅
    I greatly admire you for being on here for so long! That sure was a fast reply to a 12 year old post 👍
    But I also legitimately wanted to learn Punjabi still
     

    Shahaalam

    New Member
    India - Hindustani & English
    Punjabi actually has Level, Low-rising and High-falling tones. Middle, High and Low don't accurately capturing the quality of the tones
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I shall provide three words. Label each one's tone with whatever description you feel fits best.

    koRaa/bitter

    k_hoRaa/a horse

    ko_hRaa/a leper
     

    Shahaalam

    New Member
    India - Hindustani & English
    I shall provide three words. Label each one's tone with whatever description you feel fits best.

    koRaa/bitter

    k_hoRaa/a horse

    ko_hRaa/a leper
    From what I understand.
    Koṛā (bitter) is middle level tone
    Kòṛā/Ghoṛā (horse) is high-falling tone.
    Kóṛā/Koṛhā (leper) is low-rising tone
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    Qureshpor said:
    koRaa/bitter
    Isn't the word for bitter pronounced as kauRaa - with a diphthong? (Reason for asking: Some speakers do pronounce it without the diphthong, but they also usually mispronounce mauj as moj, Ghaur as Ghor, etc. This observation lead to the impression that kauRaa is correct.)

    In previous discussions on this topic (
    here), you had provided the following three words as examples:
    Qureshpor said:
    ... Let us take a look at three words in Shahmukhi and gurmukhi

    Low tone (horse): گھوڑا /ਘੋੜਾ

    Level or Neutral Tone (whip): کوڑا / ਕੋੜਾ

    High Tone: (leper): کوہڑا / ਕੋਹੜਾ

    Now the problem is that in the horse example, a person familiar with Urdu/Hindi and literate in Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi scripts is likely to read this is "ghoRaa", which is not how it is pronounced in Punjabi. I depict this as k_hoRaa. But the "ghoRaa" type "gh" is retained in a word such as "singh" (سنگھ). So, it is clear that in low tone, the h does not just represent the tone but it also provides "aspiration".

    In the high tone, how does one distinguish between "kohRaa" where the "h" is pronounced as an "h" and the word for "leper" where the "h" provides the high tone? Once again, "h" is bivalent. ...
     
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