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Tone Languages

Some Native American languages are described as "tone languages." What this means is that information about grammar or word meaning is conveyed by the pitch of a speaker's voice. Chinese languages are probably the most famous tone languages in the world. The same syllable in Chinese can have four different meanings depending on whether the speaker's tone is high, low, rising, or falling. While some Native American languages, such as Mixtec, have a similarly complex tone system with four or six different tones, most Native American tone languages use only two distinct tones. Here is a partial list of Native American tone languages:

Andoque Achumawi Apache Barasana Bari Beaver Bora Bribri
Cacua Caddo Carapana Chatino Cherokee Chiapanec Chichimec Chilcotin
Chimila Chinantec Chipewyan Chocho Cora Coreguaje Cubeo Cuicatec
Desano Dogrib Guanano Gwich'in Haida Han Heiltsuk Huave
Huichol Iquito Karok Kaska Keres Kiowa Koasati Macuna
Matlatzinca Maya Mazahua Mazatec Mixtec Muinane Nambikwara Navajo
Ocaina Oneida Orejon Otomi Pame Pech Piraha Piratapuyo
Popoloca Quileute Resigaro Retuara Sarcee Secoya Sekani Shasta
Siona Siriano Slavey Takelma Tanacross Tanana Tatuyo Tlamelula
Tepehuan Tewa Ticuna Tiwa Tlapanec Tlingit Tonkawa Trique
Tsetsaut Tucano Tuscarora Tuyuca Tzotzil Uspanteco Uwa Yagua
Xinca Zapotec Zuni          

Further Reading

 Tonal Languages
 Wikipedia: Tone language



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