The Hmong language is considered a tonal language, toneme in linguistics.
Therefore, the words you hear might sound very similar, but due to its slight different pitch,
their meanings are different. For example, the words
may sound very close, but the first word means "good", and the second one means "forest."
The Hmong tone markers is similar to the English ending character. For example,
in English, the word dad
is different than the word dap
and each has its own meaning.
For example, the Hmong word tob
with the highest tone marker
with the lowest
tone marker m
means to bite. Don't worry, there is no such thing like the English word "READ" that has two different
pronunciations - REED and RED that is :)
For ease of remembering, I have put these eight tones into a friendly sentence as you can see below.
I suggest you remember this sentence so whenever you see the same ending tone marker, you can pronounce
it by referencing these words.
The meaning of the sentence is as follows:
-k is soft k like sky (-ky), -t soft t like stay (-tay)
| You || Go || My || Mother || Human/Person
|| Heart || Good || There
If you want to see a Tone Chart, click here.