Tone Markers / Cim
There are Eight Tones (pitch) in the Hmong Language.
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 "zoo and zoov" may sound very close,
but the first word means "good", and the second one means "forest." To hear what I am talking about,
click these two vowels + the different tones: oo
The tone markers is similar to the English word ending sound. For example,
in English, the word "dad" is different than the word "dat", and the word "dat" is different than the
word "dap" etc...
For ease of rememberring, 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:
| Koj (kor) || Mus (moo) || Kuv (koo) || Niam (nia)
|| Neeg (neng) || Siab (shia) || Zoo (zong) || Tod (taw) |
| You || Go || My || Mom || Human
|| Heart || Good || There |
Click on each of the tone at the bottom to hear its pitch.
If you want to see a
Tone Chart, click here.
Please note that the last tone, "D" is not really being used by
most people and it is quite difficult to differentiate between the tone "M" and this "D" tone. Some Hmong
people believe that the "D" tone is mostly being used for referencing a location and/or place, i.e., Ped,
nrad, tid, tod etc...Again, this "D" tones is a longer tone that starts with the "M - cim Niam, the
lowest pitch" and then gradually rise to the tone "V - cim Kuv." For example: Pem + eV = ped,
Tom + oV = tod.