Cori is known for having six distinct levels of tone, too many to transcribe using the International Phonetic Alphabet, which allows five. However, there are only three underlying tones: 1 (top), 4 (mid), and 6 (bottom), which are all that need to be written for literacy. Most cases of Tone 2 (high) are a result of tone sandhi, with 4 becoming 2 before 1. Tones 3 (mid-high) and 5 (low) can be analysed as contour tones, with underlying /1͡6/ realised as  and /2͡6/ realised as .
In order to transcribe the surface tones without numerals (which are ambiguous), an extra diacritic is needed, as is common for four-level languages in Central America:
- 1 [ő] (top)
- 2 [ó] (high)
- 3 [o̍] (mid-high)
- 4 [ō] (mid)
- 5 [ò] (low)
- 6 [ȍ] (bottom)
- Dihoff, Ivan (1976). Aspects of the tonal structure of Chori. Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin.
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