There are many language typologies in the linguistic field. We can have a classification on the semantic typologies, syntactic typologies, morphological typologies and so on. Here we talk about two kinds of language typologies in phonetic way. The first one is Suprasegmental Typologies of all languages. The second one is Phonological Typologies of all languages. Also, we provide the examples about tone language and intonation language.
A classification based on the suprasegmental, or prosodic, features of intonation, tone, and accent. Intonation is apparently too subject to variation to provide any promising basis for a typology, but tone and accent do offer possibilities.
For tone, Martinet offers a possible five point scale:
(1) has tones or not, eg. Swedish vs. English;
(2) has tone on all intonable segments or only some, eg. Ibo vs. Lithuanian;
(3) tone is punctual or melodic, eg. Japanese vs. Danish;
(4) tone, if melodic, is on same of different registers, eg. Mandarin Chinese vs. Vietnamese;
tone may be applied to syllable, eg. Serbo-Croatian; segment smaller than
a syllable, or mora, eg. languages of Central Africa; or segment larger than a
syllable, eg. Norwegian.
Greenberg offers a four point scale to classify the same languages from the standpoint of tone: nontonal, having level tones, having contour tones, or having both level and contour tones.
As for accent, i.e. stress, pitch, or length, Martinet offers another five-way classification, this time according to whether the language:
(1) is accented or not, eg. English vs. Vietnamese;
(2) has an unpredictable or predictable place of accent, eg. Spanish vs. Polish;
(3) is limited or unlimited in the distribution of the place of accent, eg. Spanish vs. Russian;
(4) if tone exists only under accent, has two, three, or some other number of tone distinctions, eg. Swedish 2 vs. Latvian 3;
(5) is word-accenting or lexeme-accenting, eg. Russian vs. German.
It is also possible to classify languages according to their canonic form, that is, in terms of how consonants (C) and vowels (V) are combined to give a grammatical unit. Old Church Slavic and Japanese, for example, could be classified as typically open-syllable languages, with a further subdivision into consonant clustering and non-consonant clustering respectively.
Open-syllable languages (Old Church Slavic and Japanese)
A. Consonant clustering: eg. sestra 'sister'
(a) Consonant clusters require the presence of a vowel: eg. 'splurged' /CCCVCCC/ (English)and 'spritzt' /CCCVCCC/ (German)
(b) Consonant clusters don't require the presence of a vowel: eg. prst 'finger' /CCCC/ (Czech)
Ps. The degree of consonant clustering in the Slavic languages tends to go much farther in this regard than Germanic. eg. /vzglat/ 'glance' and /vdobstf/ 'comforts' in Russian.
B. Non-consonant clustering: eg. mimashitaraba 'had I seen'
[摘自 Horne, Kibbey M. 1966. Language Typology: 19th and 20th Century Views. Georgetown University.]
Intonation language and tone language
Intonation is the pattern of rises and
falls in pitch across a stretch of speech such as a sentence.
The meaning of a sentence can depend on the sentence’s intonation
contour and such language is the intonation language, for example, English is
the intonation language. For
example, read the transcribed sentence below first with a falling pitch at the
end, then with a rising pitch.
[yu gat «n e an D« tEst]
You got an A in the test.
You got an A in the test?
In many languages, the pitch at which the
syllables in a word are pronounced can make a difference in the word’s
meaning. Such languages are called
tone languages and include Thai; Mandarin and other “dialects” of Chinese;
Vietnamese; many of the Bantu languages of Africa such as Zulu, Luganda, and
Shona; other African lanuages such as Yoruba and Igbo; and many North and South
American Indian languages such as Apache, Navajo, Kiowa, and Mazotec. To see how the tone of a word can make a different in
meaning, consider the following words in Mandarin Chinese.
|Segments||Tone Letter||Tone Pattern||Gloss|
|[ma]||ˇ︳||low falling rising||horse|
Cipollone , Steven Hartman Keiser and Shravan Vasishth (Eds.). Language Files. 1998.]