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1.3 - Stress

Stress is phonemic, and tonal. There are just two pitches, a low pitch, which is the "standard" pitch, and a high pitch, which is slightly higher. There are three kinds of tone schemes: rising, even and falling, and each word conforms to one scheme.

Rising tone is rather English-like: there is one syllable, which is the seat of the stress, that has high pitch, while the other syllables of the word have low pitch. The seat of the stress may vary, and is marked with an acute accent. Rising tone can apply to any kind of words except monosyllables.

Even tone can only apply to monosyllables and disyllables. In an even tone word, all of the syllables have high pitch. Note that monosyllables either are high tone or have no stress at all and get pronounced as enclitics. High tone is marked with an acute accent on both syllables (or on the unique syllable of a monosyllable).

Falling tone can only apply to words with more than two syllables. In these words, the first two syllables have high pitch and the others have low pitch. The third syllable is regarded to as the seat of the stress and is marked, in orthography, with a grave accent.

Sometimes, especially in slow, careful speech, a low-pitch syllable immediately following a high-pitch syllable is pronounced on an extra-low pitch for contrastive purposes.

In orthography, when an accent mark is to be put on a tense vowel (which is doubled), it is written on both vowels.

Inflected words keep their stress unchanged. For even tone words, this means that the original high pitches are preserved, although the tone scheme does change: disyllables turn into falling tone words, and monosyllables turn into rising tone words with the stress on the first syllable.

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