Talk:Pitch accent

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This is a really interesting concept that is entirely new to me; does anyone know enough to provide some examples? — OwenBlacker 20:40, Aug 15, 2004 (UTC)

Apart from the examples with anden, I also know about one-syll "stegen"("the steps"(plur) ) two-syll "stegen" ("the ladder") Also, the words "norrmän" and "normen" are spelled different but pronounced similar, (at least in the high-variety Stockholm dialect.) except for the pitch.

one-syll "norrmän"("norwegians" (people) ) two-syll normen "the norm/standard". I also know about an example in norwegian: "bønner" and "bønner". One means "beans", the other "farmers", although I can't recall now which was which...

I'm not sure about the "norrmän" example -- the word stresses both syllables, unlike "normen", which only stresses the first. And "farmers" is "bønder", with accent 1 (and a silent "d", making the "nd" combo into a double "n" -- and thereby rendering the vowel short, just like in "bønner"... in case you were wondering). (talk) 05:43, 29 April 2011 (UTC)


What is the diference between a "pitch accent" and a "melodic accent"?

Different function. They have the pitch variation in common, though. Melodic accent depends on grammatical rules, and may for instance accentuate in a similar way as vocal stress is used in other languages — or together with vocal stress.

What might be called the utilization of melodic accent to express differences depending on the roots of words is explained at — however, I do not agree with the author of that page when he states that there be no difference in vocal stress. That page also lacks comparisons between the different melodic accents typical for the language's high status varieties. (Copied from Johan Magnus' answer at the "Pitch accent" page.)

Is this term really used in any linguistic literature? Because it seems fairly rare when you Google for it and a lot of the hits are references from Wikipedia mirrors or even using us as a source [1]. The usage elsewhere seems to be about prosody in general. And there is actually a completely different definition for "melodic accent" that has to do with music, not language that seems very common. Neither, though, can be found in EB. It seems somewhat of a neologism that is only used when refering to Scandinavian languages (and only passingly about others).
Could someone cite a source for this one so we can clearly define it? Peter Isotalo 19:49, May 5, 2005 (UTC)
Almost forgot the source: Olle Engstrand, Fonetikens grunder, 2004 ("The Basics of Phonetics") page 188 (my translation):
"Since the difference between grave and accute accent is mainly about tone level, the accents are termed tonal and since they operate on a word-level, i.e. forming contrasts between otherwise identical words, they are considered to be word accents. The grave and acute accents are the tonal word accents of Swedish."
The source used by Johan Magnus [2] also describes it as a tonal accent. Peter Isotalo 20:17, May 5, 2005 (UTC)

There seem to be a confusion between two things here: "accent" as in "distinguishably different ways of realizing phonetical stress", and "accent" as in "foreign accent" or "linguistic variety". The recent additions of Fred and his comment at Talk:Swedish language about "sing-songy Scandinavian accents" leads me to believe that he is interpreting "Melodic accent" as the later. The original article, however, seems to concentrate on the former - the feature Peter in his response to Fred at Talk:Swedish language calls tonal word accent. I share his suspicion that the term "Melodic accent" used in this sense is probably a neologism, and as we've seen it also easily leads to misinterpretations. The most used English term for this phenomenon, however, actually seem to be Pitch accent. Googling gives the following results: "pitch accent" swedish OR norwegian -wikipedia 638, "melodic accent" swedish OR norwegian -wikipedia 173, and "tonal word accent" swedish OR norwegian -wikipedia 29. It could be argued that this makes no particular distinction between the rather different concept of Japanese pitch accent or the seemingly more related concepts in Serbo-Croatian (see Serbo-Croatian#Stress) and Lithuanian. (Possibly the intention of the original author was to make such a distinction. However, the differences Johan Magnus states exist between the two terms is not as clear cut as he makes them sound.) My suggestion is to merge this page into Pitch accent and cover all the different aspects of the phonological phenomenon there, or, as a less desirable alternative, renaming this page Pitch accent in Scandinavian languages. / Alarm 10:53, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

You are correct. I don't understand it, and chances are others also don't. So I agree to merge it. Neither article is very large. But we should wait for Isotalo (I will call him Isotalo as I don't consider it insulting, but a cool name, and he can get upset all he wants) who might have objections. --Fred-Chess 11:54, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, there is some work to do on the subject, since there are several different articles making quite different statements on the topic. For example, I very much doubt the factual accuracy of this quote from Tone (linguistics) about tonal languages:
Some Indo-European are usually characterized as tonal, such as Lithuanian, Old Church Slavonic, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, but they are in fact pitch accent languages; Limburgian, Swedish and Norwegian may be closer to being true tone languages.
I am still reading up on the subject and hope to be able to write a new and more correct version. But I, too, would appreciate Peter's input. Meanwhile, I hope you don't mind if I revert your changes, since I think they only add to the confusion. Even the statement that Serbo-Croatic and Lithuanian are the only other European languages with a similar feature is incorrect. As the above quote hints, the Limburgish language (or rather, dialect) posesses a similar distinction, as does some dialects of Basque (See Basque language#Stress and pitch) and, it seems, Slovenian (although the usage of different terms in the text in Slovenian language#Stress, Length and Tone seems to be a good example of the confusing usage around here.) / Alarm 16:52, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I think the linguists are fairly unanimous on the subject. I've looked it up in Engstrands Fonetikens grunder and David Crystal's The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (which is a great resource for general linguistic information, btw) and this is how they seem to seperate the terms:
  • Tone languages: The most well-known languages in this category are Chinese (with the exception of Shanghai dialect), Thai and Vietnamese where the tone of individual syllables changes the meaning, and where each tone is unpredictable from morphological context. Moreover a lot of the tones are glides. There are not just high, middle or low tones, but also dynamic tones, like low falling rising or high falling. The classic example of Mandarin four forms of "ma" illustrates this quite nicely. There are also langauges like Twi where change in tone means a change in tense, and there are examples like Gbe languages (thanks to Mark for brigning that to my attention) that have much simpler tone systems than Mandarin or Vietnamese.
  • Pitch accent languages: These are the languages like Swedish, Japanese and Serbo-Croatian, where individual words can change meaning depending on a certain tonal accent, but where this feature is not very prominent, or like in Swedish, where the tone is completely predictable from the morphology of a word; any native listener could understand these languages even if the foreign speaker ignored the tonal accent. For obvious reasons, this also means that only words with two or more syllables can feature the tonal accent. I don't know if I've actually read any linguists classifying, for example Swedish, as a tone language, but I've certainly read Swedish linguists firmly dismissing saying why it is not a tone language, because of the above mentioned reasons.
And then, of course, there are the languages that use stress. In some, like Finnish or Farsi, the stress is almost always on the same syllable (first and last respectively), while English and Russian aren't quite as predictable. It must be noted here that Japanese doesn't use stress at all, while Swedish combines stress with the pitch accent-features called tonal word accent.
As for melodic accent, I have to remind you that the term actually means something entirely different that has to do with accent in a musical context. This article should probably be cleared out from the linguistic meaning or perhaps just redirected to accent (music).
I must say that this among the trickiest linguistic definitions I've come across so far, what with all the terminology intertwining. Do you feel any wiser after this attempt at clarifying?
Peter Isotalo 12:00, May 21, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your interesting contributions.
Looking back in the history, Ruhrjung noted the origin of the text to be a "Nordic FAQ". Ruhrjung's link currently doesn't work, but it can be found here: (search in the text for melodic accent). There seems to be no source other than "common knowledge". The term seems to have been invented by the author of the FAQ (so you were right, Peter).
I think we sometimes engage a little too much in bickering over unverifiable subjects instead of doing something useful, with this I mean add material from verifyable sources. This page seems rather irrelevant.
This page links to no other article page. As it was originally written in a Nordiq FAQ, lets incorporate interesting parts (if any) into Swedish Language and recreate this page as just a link to the musical term. And then don't argue about this any more as we have no sources.
Peter's material above is perfectly in order and might be suitable on a responding page.
--Fred-Chess 19:43, 21 May 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I wouldn't call this bickering or arguing. Rather, I see it as a discussion that will ultimately lead to the improvement of Wikipedia. I agree with almost everything Peter is saying. To be constructive, I've written a draft for a new version of Pitch accent at User:Alarm/Pitch accent. My intention is that this should replace the current article, incorporating all the relevant facts in the current Melodic accent article. If it passes some close scrutiny and replaces the current version, I'd suggest we turn Melodic accent into a disambiguation page, with links to Accent (music), Pitch accent and perhaps Intonation and/or Non-native pronunciations of English#Swedish. Anyway, all feedback on the new draft is very much welcome. / Alarm 17:17, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Alarm here. I know it must seem rather pointless to have such voluminous discussions about articles that have turned out to be pretty wrong, but at least we've learned something. Some things need to take time, I guess.
I think what you've written att pitch accent looks like a very good start, Alarm. I also support redirecting this to accent (music), and I think adding comments in other articles is probably a good idea as well.
Peter Isotalo 20:42, May 23, 2005 (UTC)

Southern dialects[edit]

I will make a rough generalization based on my experience.

The "Standard" Swedish we in Scania here most of is the Stockholmian accent. Probably because there are so many well educated Stockholmians who move down here to take jobs.

Anyways, the Stockholmian word melody would go something like this: da-dá-di-du-dá-dí-dí-de-dé-de-di-dá-da.

While the Scanian would go like this: Duh-dau-dau-deu-döu-deh-döu For instance : "Döu, jau skau ente göura deatta, döu." It has a more provocative sound, and some would say aggressive, using more of a "uh" sound.

I would assume, from having lived 9 years in Sweden's most southern city Trelleborg, that this is most notable in the southern Scanian accents and on the country side and that the dialect "brightens" the more north you travel.

I can easily provide soundfiles of spoken dialects around here if requested. --Fred-Chess 10:21, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Scanian dialects (along with some other Southern Sweden dialects, like Småländska and some Halländska and Blekingska) is actually Danish dialects. They sound more like Swedish then the Danish spoken in Denmark, because these areas became Swedish before the Danish in Denmark went through some large changes (they also share a lot of vocabulary with Swedish). The people in these areas have been systematically brainwashed by Swedish propaganda to identify them self as Swedish, though. See also Dacke War, Scanian War and this part in the article about Skåneland. You won't find as many and fanatic Swedish nationalists anywhere else in Sweden, as you find in the "Danish" speaking regions in Sweden. Ironically, most of the extreme right parties and organisations, that is very hostile against anything non-Swedish, have their roots in these parts of the country too. Ironically, because most of the culture in the Southern parts of Sweden is very foreign to us "real Swedes" (I really hate calling myself a "real Swede", as anybody should have the right to call them-self Swedish, but not to deny anybody else that right; but it piss me of when "Danes" call them self "Swedish" and then deny other people to do the same thing). --Se mj (talk) 21:27, 17 December 2011 (UTC)


I don't know enough about the musical aspects of melodic accent to write anything about, so I'll just redirect it to accent (music) for now.

Peter Isotalo 11:58, May 28, 2005 (UTC)

Shouldn't the article say Enlish uses pitch accent? (For example, contrast is usually marked by L+H* pitch accent.)Jirka6 03:38, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

No, it shouldn't. English is an intonation language which employs pitch contours for various syntactic and pragmatic ends, but crucially not for lexical distinctions. 20:22, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Okay, I understand that "English does not use pitch accent to make lexical distinctions" but it still does not mean one cannot say "English uses pitch accent to mark various syntactic and pragmatic functions". --Jirka6 00:52, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
It says already: "In a wider sense of the term, ”pitch accent” is sometimes also used to describe intonation, such as methods of conveying surprise, changing a statement into a question, or expressing Information Structure (topic-focus, contrasting), using variations in pitch. A great number of languages use pitch in this way, including English as well as all other major European languages. They are often called intonation languages."
Is this your contribution? Anyway, I think it's very much acceptable this way, as long as the distinction between pitch accent languages and intonation languages is not obscured. 13:55, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Merge with melodic accent[edit]

What is the diference between a "pitch accent" and a "melodic accent"?

--User: 13:28, 4 Dec 2004 

Different function. They have the pitch variation in common, though. Melodic accent depends on grammatical rules, and may for instance accentuate in a similar way as vocal stress is used in other languages — or together with vocal stress.

What might be called the utilization of melodic accent to express differences depending on the roots of words is explained at — however, I do not agree with the author of that page when he states that there be no difference in vocal stress. That page also lacks comparisons between the different melodic accents typical for the language's high status varieties.

--Johan Magnus 16:09, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There is a revival of this discussion over at Talk:Melodic accent#Pitch/Melodic that would benefit from contributions from anyone with an interest in this question. / Alarm 16:58, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I've now written a draft for a new version of Pitch accent at User:Alarm/Pitch accent. My intention is that this should replace the current article, incorporating all the relevant facts in the current Melodic accent article. If it passes some close scrutiny and replaces the current version, I'd suggest we turn Melodic accent into a disambiguation page, with links to Accent (music), Pitch accent and perhaps Intonation and/or Non-native pronunciations of English#Swedish. Anyway, all feedback on the new draft is very much welcome. / Alarm 17:23, 23 May 2005 (UTC)


What affects the pitch of an instrument? Re the addition of Swedish and Norwegian by Wiglaf, is this really the pitch accent of PIE which has been preserved all this time, or could it be an innovation? (in the absence of sources, I think the latter is more likely). --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 13:03, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

An innovation, as in the Southern Slavic languages. kwami 18:36, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

You are quite correct to write that the 2 or 3 tones of modern continental Scandinavian languages (Norwegian, Swedish; the presence or absence of the Stød glottalization corresponds to these tones in Danish) is unrelated to the proto-IE pitch accent. But you are entirely WRONG to apply this to the pitch accents in the western South Slavic (Serbo-Croat-Bosnian and Slovenian) and Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian) languages. Indeed, Lithuanian and the Čakavica (Adriatic coastal) dialects of Croatian are (with Homeric Greek and Vedic Sanskrit) probably the best witnesses to both the position and the character of the original proto-IE pitch accent. Unfortunately, I can't cite references from memory, but you will find an account of this in every treatment of proto-IE phonology. (preceding unsigned comment by (talk · contribs) 08:56, 17 October 2005)

Since the Baltic and Slavic languages have the same ancestor, Proto-Balto-Slavic, would it not make sense that if the pitch accent system was preserved from PIE in LIthuanian, it was also preserved in Serbo-Croatian? Does anyone have any proof that Serbo-Croatian developed a pitch-accent system on its own rather than preserving it from PIE? Didn't Proto-Slavic have a pitch accent system? Edrigu 18:08, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Old "Melodic accent" article[edit]

(I copy the old "melodic accent" article here, in case someone would want to write a section about Swedish and Norwegian.)

Melodic accent

Norwegian and Swedish except Finland-Swedish are among the few modern European languages which have a melodic accent, even though we presume that the Indo-European proto-language was melodically accented. Others are Lithuanian and Serbo-Croatian.

Scandinavian languages (Norwegian and Swedish)

The way this prosody is expressed varies quite a lot between different dialects of the language, and the dichotomy exists in most varieties. It's important for differentiating words that are identically spelled, but derived from different roots.

Words with one syllable, words stressed on the end, and short words with an unstressed suffix, usually have what is refered to as acute accent or accent 1. It's only rarely marked in orthography, but then with an acute accent. Words derived from the two-syllable roots usually have an almost equal stress on both syllables. the acute accent. For example, in Swedish, and·en pronounced with accent 1 means "the duck", while ande·n with the accent 2 means "the spirit".

and-en [ándɛn] — "the duck" ande-n [àndɛn] — "the spirit"

About this sound Sample of Central Swedish realization of the two accents 

In southern Swedish dialects accent 1 is expressed as a falling tone of voice on the first syllable, while accent 2 is expressed as a rise and a fall of the tone on the first syllable.

Questions are expressed by using a rising tone on the second syllable.

In most Danish dialects (and some Scanian too) this type of lexical stress has been replaced by a glottal stop (stød) [støʔ] in place of an acute accent.

See also


惑乱 分からん 13:13, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Misleading introduction?[edit]

Isn't the 2nd introductory paragraph misleading? The examples given seem to demonstrate a stress-accent rather then a pitch-accent language: "The pitch-accent language, on the other hand, only has two possibilities: accented on the first syllable, [ába], or on the second, [abá]". At least for Serbian/Croatian (and as far as I know similarly for Scandinavian), the distinction is actually that you can have two qualitatively different accents (usually described as "falling" and "rising" for S/C and as I and II for Scandinavian) on the first syllable, with no distinctions on the unaccented syllable. Know it is true, at least for Serbian/Croatian, that the system resulted from a previous pretty much as described here, but the present situation is rather "ába" and "àba". 14:07, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

I need to overhaul this. But a bit of research first, as I'm somewhat rusty. Pitch accent is a different setup than a stress language like English, which after all also uses pitch. There can be two or three distinct tones, in some langs, but only one per word, or a word may or may not have an accent, which isn't the case for stress languages (at least not for lexical categories), where every word has an accent. kwami 23:20, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
Not a great improvement, but a start. I have a question too: does anyone actually say English has pitch accent because of the role of prosody? Should that comment be deleted? kwami 17:21, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

IE pitch ancestral to BS?[edit]

We now state that IE pitch accent was ancestral to B-Slavic, and it retained in Lith. & S-C. Has it been settled that that's the case? kwami (talk) 10:16, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Yes, though the significant advances in Balto-Slavic accentology made in the last 20-30 years have not entered the standard handbooks yet. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 10:33, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
  • RE this: [3] - yes, the pronunciation of Sanskrit was very much under the influence of Prakrits. Vedic had free pitch-accent based system, and Classical Sanskrit had fixed stress-based. Quoting Macdonell (1900):

The nature of the Vedic accent was musical, depending on the pitch of the voice, like that of the ancient Greeks. This remained the character of the Sanskrit accent till later than the time of Pāṇini. But just as the old Greek musical accent, after the beginning of our era, was transformed into a stress accent, so by the seventh century A.D. (and probably long before) the Sanskrit accent had undergone a similar change. While, however, in modern Greek the stress accent has remained, owing to the high pitch of the old acute, on the same syllable as bore the musical accent in the ancient language, the modern pronunciation of Sanskrit has no connection with the Vedic accent, but is dependent on the quantity of the last two or three syllables, much the same as in Latin. Thus the penultimate, if long, is accented, e.g. Kālidā́sa, or the antepenultimate, if long and followed by a short syllable, e.g. brā́hmaṇa or himā́laya ("abode of snow"). This change of accent in Sanskrit was brought about by the influence of Prākrit, in which, as there is evidence to show, the stress accent is very old, going back several centuries before the beginning of our era.

Also, šuma means primarily "forest" not "wood", grȃd is primarly "city" (big settlement) not "town", u nemogućnosti does not mean anything like "outside possibility" (? ˘_˘), and ne vidim more appropriately translates as proper English "I can't see" (not being able to see), not this dialectal American interjective "I don't see". Please Kwami don't revert good-faiths edits by native speakers if you're not 100% sure of what you're doing. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 10:49, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, none of the Slavic stuff was intentional. I only meant to change the wording of one line, not to revert everything you did!
As for the change I did make, the implication from your context was that you were discussing the historical changes of Vedic to Prakrit. I never would have guessed you meant changes in Sanskrit as an artificially maintained language. (I.e. Vedic as a living language was never in contact with Prakrit.) I think the normal changes in the development of Indic are more appropriate here, as they parallel the coverage of the history of Greek and Balto-Slavic. kwami (talk) 11:48, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Well, some authors also make a notion of so-called "Vedic Prakrits", which are unattested but which would be ancestral to a number of Prakrit idioms, as Old Indo-Aryan was dialectally by no means a uniform language, and some noticeable dialectal diversification is present even in the Rigveda itself. Vedic is not really an Indo-Aryan dialect(s) ancestral to all modern Indo-Aryan idioms, but is dangerously close to it (it can be treated as such for all practical purposes, comparative to e.g. Old Church Slavonic whose >50% corpus can serve de facto as an attestation of Late Proto-Slavic).
The current formulation :"and Vedic (being lost entirely from the Prākrits of the Classical period)." insinuates 1) the direct relationship of Vedic and Prakrits 2) connects the adjective Classical to Prakrits which in the original formulation referred to the period of Classical Sanskrit (i.e. post-Paninean Sanskrit). What the abovequoted Macdonell's paragraph explains is, from my understanding, that the pronunciation of Sanskrit as a form of "refined speech" (we can neglect the controversial issue who spoke it, where and for what purposes here) was influenced by Prakrits in the change of free pitch-accent system to phonologically predictable stress-based accentual system. That change, according to Macdonell (I don't know what is the modern-day communis opinio in the scholarship of IA dialectology with regard to this particular issue), occurred many centuries previously in Prakrits. These pitch-accent pre-Prakrits are unattested, i.e. hypothetical, so it's pointless to speak on them here when we have no written record on them, which we do have for Sanskrit writings throughout the ages. IMHO my original formulation more precisely describes that kind of development: "and Vedic, which under the influence of Prākrits turned to prominence-based stress accent in the Classical period.". Now, I'm not a native English speaker and moreover can't imagine how should someone completely ignorant to this issue understand my formulation, but I do perceive that yours formulation is a bit more "problematic" than mine for the reasons stated previously. Could you please rewrite it an a manner that includes linking to the [[Vedic accent]] article, and saying that it refers to the development of the pron. of Sanskrit from Rigvedic down to the Classical times, the change prob. being under the influence of Prakrits (and not the change of Prakrits themselves)? Many thanks. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 03:51, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
Your English is fine, and if you want to revert, I won't fight you about it. I just think that, since we're discussing *IE tone and its retention or lack thereof in modern IE languages, it would be more useful to say that Indic was once tonal but no longer is. Vedic was tonal; by the time we get to Prakrits, they are not tonal. Classical Greek was tonal; Modern Greek is not. *B-S was tonal, and several modern B-S languages still are. That strikes me as a more coherent presentation. kwami (talk) 07:53, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
Current formulation looks OK by me. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 08:33, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

"Ancient Greek has two types of accent (acute vs. circumflex) on stressed syllables."[edit]

What about the grave accent? Does that not count as a stressed syllable?-- (talk) 17:23, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Ancient_Greek_phonology#Accent. kwami (talk) 01:42, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Serbo-Croatian language[edit]

The term is a subject to many controversies. Even International standardisation institute (ISO) standardised separately Croatian and Serbian language. Today, standard Croatian language is official in Croatia and Serbian in Serbia. Therefore, I dont see the need to write "serbo-croatian" in the article. If the intention is to denote all the south-west slavic languages then it can be done by writing this geographical indication, as is done for Scandinavian languages. Also, Croatian chakavian and kajkavian dialects have a pitch accent (and are absolutely not included in the term serbo-croatian language). Because of controversy of the named term, I suggest to use either separate Serbian and Croatian language, or one of the two: south-west slavic languages or Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages. Can somebody explain me how old is this Serbo-Croatian language? Created by Yugoslav communists in 1950.-ies (let alone that Serbs spoke Serbian and Croats Croatian and that it was a king of "administrative language"). This language stopped being an administrative after 1990. It is quite stupid to neglect long history of Serbian and Croatian languages (more than 1000 years) because of this communist era that tried to destroy every simbol of separate culture and create a communistic nation. I don't see the point in promotion of this s-c language denomination any more. It is obviously a pretension comming from this communistic era. Can someone find a country where serbo-croatian language is officialy spoken and recommend a grammar book and a dictionary for it because I am interested in studying it? And which alphabet is used in s-c language?Hammer of Habsburg (talk) 02:17, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

For our purposes, SC can be considered a single language. The fact that one of its dialects has 2 or 3 official registers is largely irrelevant to a parenthetical mention such as this. "South-west Slavic languages" is not a normal term in English, SC is. kwami (talk) 04:10, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
The "controversy" exists only in the native terminology, the term is still widely used in English-speaking world (and elsewhere). What you misleadingly perceive as "different languages" (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin) is by any reasonable linguistic criteria one and the same entity (a stylised variety of Neoštokavian dialect). All 4 modern-day "standards" are 100% mutually intelligible, have 99% identical grammar (the same phonology, accentuation system, inflection, syntax) and differ themselves only in trivial details. All the "differences" among 4 standards can fit on some 2 pages of text. Also please educate yourself a bit more on the Serbo-Croatian history - the term itself predates communist Yugoslavia by at least a century. As for the grammar books and dictionary, the best introductory textbooks would be Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, a grammar: with sociolinguistic commentary by Ronelle Alexander and Introduction to the Croatian and Serbian Language by Thomas F. Magner, the best specialised linguistic overview would be the chapter on Serbo-Croat written by Wayles Browne in Comrie&Corbett, the most comprehensive dictionary would be Morton-Benson. Alphabets used are both Cyrillic and Latin - of modern-day nascent "languages", Cyrillic is used by all except Croatian standard. It would also be advised that you keep your objections strictly in the linguistic domain, we don't care about your nationalist frustrations resulting from "historical injustices". --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 11:19, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Thank you for the reply. I respect your facts and you have a point in it all. But, naming of languages is more political than a linguistic issue. Nowdays this language that you are referning to is not official in any sovereign country today. I agree, on the other hand to use this term as an umbrella for these languages, but not as a language itself. The differences between Czeck and Slovak languages is even smaller but still, they are refered as separate ones. Not to mention Norwegian and Swedish. Also, the problem is, if Croatians have s-c as a native language, that they can not read their own mother tounge texsts if they are written Cyrillic, as they, after 90.ies do not have compulsory learning of this alphabet in schools.Hammer of Habsburg (talk) 17:13, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Some 98% of world's languages are not official languages of some sovereign country. Whether some country recognizes a languages in its constitution or similar legislative device as "official" or not is a political and not linguistic issue - the named entity is one and the same regardless of its "officiality". Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks and Montenegrins didn't start speaking "different languages" in 1991, 1993, 1997 and 2009 when these "new languages" were invented, given "official" status and assigned ISO codes.
The differences between Czech and Slovak are 100 times more numerous than between B/C/S/M standards. When literary Slovak was codified in the 19th century, its chief creator was looking to make it as distinct as possible from contemporary literary Czech, which was in use at that time by most of the Slovak intelligentsia. OTOH, Croatian and Serbian linguists dumped all the other literary dialects in favor of one that was shared by all the nations (Neoštokavian), and based their common literary standard on it. The differences between Norwegian (either of the 2 standards) and Swedish are even bigger.
Language is not determined by the alphabet in use. imat ću, имаћу and '[ǐmatɕu]' are different written forms of phonetically the same underlying word. Cyrillic script can be read by most of the Croats (most of the population is above 20, mind you) and its knowledge is a matter of basic literacy. In case you didn't know, Croatian writers used Cyrillic script for centuries (see bosančica). At any case, all of the Wikipedia's SC words are either biscripted or given only in Latin alphabet, so I see know problem with that. You just ignore what you can't read. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 17:40, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

OK. Everyone has a right on his own opinion. Your assertion is that the majority of Croats are illiterate as they can not read or write texts in their own language in Cyrillic script. I doubt that more than 10% of them can even read cyrillic fluently, let alone writing exercises. People born before 50.-ies didn't learn cyrillic as well. If you didn't know, elementary education in Croatia starts at the age of 6/7, so you have 27 generations that never had the opportunity to read or write it's own native language in both scripts, not to mention emigrant native speakers (that didn't take part in Yu education system when both scripts were taught) of "this language" - many of them would not even be able to recognise "their own mother language" in cyrillic script - amazing! Not amazing, just a matter of their basic illiteracy. Hahaha!!! Croats, besides bosancica, used several other scripts throughout the history (like glagolitic), but almost none can read or write it. Again, according to your deduction method, just a matter of their basic illiteracy!Hammer of Habsburg (talk) 21:10, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

As I said, the choice of script/orthography used for transcription does not influence or determine the properties of actually spoken language or an idealized form thereof properties of which happen to be the topic of this article. Modern-day standard varieties of Serbo-Croatian have identical accentual system and it makes absolutely no sense to treat them separately. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 21:38, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
And Serbian is written in Latin script, so if you have a modern SC word written in Latin, it's generally impossible to say whether it's "Croatian" or "Serbian".
Beside that, Hammer, your attitude is not appropriate for civilized discourse. I'll ignore you now unless you decide you want to behave seriously. kwami (talk) 21:48, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

pitch accent is the sound your mom makes —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:36, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Bad Swedish?[edit]

"Är det tomten på tomten?" is a very strange (possibly Swenglish) sentence. It could mean "Is THAT(!) Santa out in the yard?", "Is it the Santa (a statue) out in the yard?", or "In the yard, is it the Santa?", depending how you say it. Should probably be "Är tomten på tomten?", which could mean "Is that Santa out in the yard?", "Is the gnome out in the yard?", "Is the gardening gnome (statue) out in the yard", or "Is the yard on the estate?", depending on how you say it. (Both sentences can have other meanings too, but these are the ones that make sense to me). I can't explain how you say these sentences to get these different meanings (and in some Swedish dialects (e.g. Stockholmska), you can't); I'm Swedish, it comes natural to me.

I read "Banan på banan", first as "The curvature of the banana" and, since that seem unnatural to say, my brain then corrected it as "The curvature of the course/trajectory". That it could mean "Banana on the track", never even occurred to me. Although correct, the sentence is bad/confusing Swedish and I think it is a possible case of Swenglish. A more likely Swedish sentence would be "En banan på banan" ("A banana on the track") or "Bananer på banan" ("Bananas on the track").

Of course, it would be easier if the sentences where within a context. I think they prove that Swedish was never meant to be written with the Latin alphabet ;-)

--Se mj (talk) 22:26, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

When Old Norse was written in the younger futhark, it would actually have been even more cnfusing. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


I fail to get this. Do "pitch-accent" languages not also have stress? The terms "stress-accent" and "pitch-accent" are used as if they are mutually exclusive, but to me they are unrelated. As far as I know all languages use stress in various ways, and all languages use pitch in various ways (and in particular, pitch is often a part of stress). A "pitch-accent language" seems to mean a language that uses pitch at least in one specified way (to make lexical distinctions, but only with respect to particular [stressed?] syllables within a word). Is a "stress-accent" language defined as a language that is neither a tonal language nor a pitch-accent language? If so, it seems a rather misleading name (as indeed is "pitch-accent language", but that one at least seems to be well established). Can anyone straighten out my thoughts on this? W. P. Uzer (talk) 12:48, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

@W. P. Uzer: As for your first question, the prototypical pitch-accent language (if there is such a thing) does not have lexical stress. It will have prosodic stress, just as English has prosodic tone. I remember people investigating whether a single language can have both lexical stress and lexical tone. I suspect that some do, but haven't kept up w the lit. Basically, languages with lexical "accent" have a tonic syllable in a word. ("Tonic" ≠ "tone"!) The difference is whether the tonic syllable is realized by stress (which tends to carry pitch, vowel length, etc.) or just by tone. In many languages that use tone (pitch-accent languages), most words have no tonic syllable. In languages that use stress, on the other hand, all (or at least most) lexical words have a tonic syllable. But Larry Hyman has written that there is no coherent definition of "pitch accent" that works for all pitch-accent languages. (Others disagree.) Pitch-accent might be thought of as being the simple extreme of word-tone.
In the case of European pitch-accent languages, people speak of an accented (tonic) syllable that may have one of several tones (often just a choice of two). Sometimes it's called the "stressed" syllable, but that's just a confusion of terminology. In the case of Japanese, a word either does or does not have a tonic syllable; most don't, but if they do, the only question is which syllable it is. There's no choice of tone on that syllable (for Tokyo dialect). (Personally, I think the Tokyo system is more productively thought of as downstep than as pitch accent, but that's perhaps just a philosophical difference.)
kwami (talk) 07:41, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, that helps quite a bit, but there still seems to be a mixing of two different concepts that are both referred to using the term "pitch accent". Are you saying that in languages like Japanese and Swedish, there are no additional cues for the "tonic" syllable other than pitch? (That is, that there is no extra acoustic force or vowel length or anything else "stress-like" on that syllable?) I would be surprised if this were the case. W. P. Uzer (talk) 22:41, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Sound files[edit]

We really could use some soundfiles on this page, especially of minimal pairs or sets of words distinguished by different pitch accents. Are there users who speak Latvian or Lithuanian, Bosnian, Croation, Serbian, Montenegrin, or Slovenian, Japanese, Wu Chinese, or other languages who could record some examples? — Eru·tuon 21:58, 3 January 2015 (UTC)