Handbook of the Swatow Vernacular/Tones, Hyphens

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Lesson IX.


There are four great classes of tones—1st. Phêⁿ; 2nd. Siãng; 3rd. Khṳ̀; 4th. Jíp. In the Swatow Colloquial, eight seperate tones are distinguished from one another:—

  1. 上平 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿ as 知 tsai, to know.
  2. 下平 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿẼ-phêⁿ as 來 lâi, to come.
  3. 上聲 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿSiãng-siaⁿ as 海 hái, the sea.
  4. 上去 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿChiēⁿ-khṳ̀ as 試 chhì, to try.
  5. 下去 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿẼ-khṳ̀ as 老 lãu, old.
  6. 去聲 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿKhṳ̀-siaⁿ as 易 kōi, easy.
  7. 上入 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿChiēⁿ-jíp as 歇 hiah, to stop.
  8. 下入 Chiēⁿ-phêⁿẼ-jíp as 葉 hiéh, leaves.

inflections of the tones.

When a syllable is connected with another by a hyphen, the former loses its original tone, and the latter retains it in full force. There are exceptions in the case of the first and sixth tones, which, though these are connected with other syllables, are not changed, but the rest are thus changed:—

The second becomes the sixth.
The third becomes the fifth.
The fourth becomes the third.
The fifth becomes the fourth.
The seventh becomes the eighth.
The eighth becomes the seventh.
  1. 何時 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Tiang-sî, when, read Tiang-sî.
  2. 的處 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Tî-kò, where, read Tī-kò.
  3. 許處 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Hṳ́-kó, there, read Hṳ̃-kò.
  4. 做年 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Tsò-nîⁿ, why, read Tsó-nîⁿ.
  5. 上好 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Siāng-hó, best, read Siàng-hó.
  6. 上午 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon, read Chiēⁿ-kùa.
  7. 失落 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Sit-lóh, to lose, read Sít-lóh.
  8. 落雨 Chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon,Lóh-hõu, to rain, read Loh-hõu.


On this admittedly difficult subject, I transcribe a few remarks from one well qualified to speak having made this a study.

”The general idea involved in the use of hyphens is to link together those syllables which are so closely connected that the tones of certain of them are affected by the connexion. This principal, however, is not carried out to the full extent, because in many cases the words thus influencing one another would be too numerous to link together in this manner.” But it will be observed that there is one case in which hyphens must always be employed, viz. when two or more syllables form one word, as 上午 chiēⁿ-kùa, forenoon, 書冊 tsṳ-chheh, a book, 大英國 Tãi-eng-kok, England, 灼灼薜 iáp-iáp-sih, twinkling.

”A Double Hyphen implies that the word preceding it retains its own proper tone in full force, and that the word or words following it are either enclitic or unaccented, and as far as possible deprived of distinctive tonal character,” as,

入來 jíp--lâi, come in, 覔着 tshūe--tiéh, found, 來了 lái--lō, has come, 掠着了 liáh--tiéh-lō, has been caught, 站起來, khiã--khí-lâi, stand up.

“The use of hyphens, though most essential, is yet difficult to regulate by any stringent law, and much must be left to discretion.”