It seems like people are more sensitive to tones instead of phonemes. People may not notice some vowels/consonants are wrong but will immediately find that tones are weird. Does this apply for all tonal languages?

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    This sounds like a question that might be more appropriate for linguistics.stackexchange.com
    – Mou某
    Feb 3, 2019 at 11:02
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    Even as a beginner I have noticed while listening in a noisy car that tones remain distinguishable even when it becomes hard to hear things like -n vs -ng or some similar initials. Feb 3, 2019 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


Yes. It is not unusual for native Chinese to have difficulties distinguishing between nasal vs non-nasal or alveolars vs retroflexed, but I have never met someone who has difficulties distinguishing between the 4 tones in Mandarin. Though I am learning Cantonese right now and for me, a native Mandarin-speaking Chinese the 6 tones of Cantonese is a little bit tricky. I can't answer if this is true with regards to all tone languages, just my observation. Hope it helps

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