Upstep

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Upstep
ꜛ◌
IPA number 518
Encoding
Entity (decimal) ꜛ
Unicode (hex) U+A71B

In phonetics, upstep is a phonemic or phonetic upward shift of tone between the syllables or words of a tonal language. Upstep is much rarer as a phoneme than its opposite, downstep.

The symbol for upstep in the International Phonetic Alphabet is a superscript up arrow, (). It's not uncommon to see a superscript inverted exclamation mark, (¡), used instead due to typographical constraints.

Upstep is superficially similar to pitch reset, which is nearly universal in the prosody of the world's languages. The most common prosodic contours occur in chunks with gradually declining pitch (here transcribed as a global fall, [↘]). Between such chunks the pitch resets:

Been there. Done that.
[ꜛbɪn ðɛɹ↘ ꜛdɐn ðæt↘ ]

However, true upstep is due to tonal interaction, not prosody. Hausa, for example, has both phonetic upstep due to the interaction of tones, and pitch reset between prosodic units characterised by downdrift. Here we indicate just the upstep:

[túránꜛtʃí nè]
It's English.

In Hausa, upstep is predictable. Phonemic upstep is rare.

See also[edit]

  • Downstep, which is more commonly phonemic.